It may sound like a first-world problem, but festive stress is real, and it can have a big effect on our mental and physical health, not to mention having the potential to ruin Christmas altogether! Here are some professionally approved ideas to keep the tensity on low and allow us to breeze through the holidays with strength and positivity!
Article by Victoria Wood
My mum always tells me to be prepared and quotes the old British army adage of the seven Ps – Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Taking heed of this over a period of time where there are many more things to plan for, prepare, and people to consider, is essential to keeping stress to a minimum. Where you can make meals in advance, prepare lists, get the shopping in before people arrive, make plans of what each day of the holiday will hold and be ready! Writing everything down or getting super-nerdy and making a spreadsheet is an effective tool to reduce stress; just the act of putting it ‘on paper’ relieves your mind of all the information it is attempting to store – those little things that keep you awake at night pondering, leave them in list format and they’ll be less likely to bother you when you least expect it. Be prepared!
Whoever you’ll be sharing Christmas time with this year will have their own preconceived ideas about what the holidays should be like. These ideas need to be shared as they can vary wildly from person to person and if people feel let down, hard done by, or that their Christmas wishes aren’t being met, this may cause conflict, anger, resentment, and disappointment. For this reason, it is so important that we communicate with our nearest and dearest ones to make sure that we are all on the same page and expectations are on the table in plain sight.
There is more than usual to do over the festive season, so when you are making your plans and working out where you will be going and when, make sure you add some delegation to that list. Who could manage that job for you? Who has more time and would happily help out? Basically, don’t try and do it all yourself, it will become overwhelming and ultimately very stressful.
Just say no
You cannot be everywhere, you cannot attend every gathering, corporate event, family dinner, house party, or whatever else may be on the invite. This is a very good time of year to learn how to say no. Be selective, be inclusive, be present but strategically consider how much time you really have and how stretched you want to feel. Say yes to the things that will make you and your family happy and keep the courtesy attendances to a minimum!
A vital thing we need to do, when the days seem to revolve around everyone else’s needs and wants, is to take time out for ourselves. Come back to yourself, carve out some time and do something that is all yours. From taking a long soak in a hot bath to a walk round the block, a phone call with a loved one, or simply sitting still, whatever it is that makes you feel like you is of the utmost importance during these heightened times.
Holistic medicine would point you in the direction of meditation as it is a calming, grounding, and soul-nourishing exercise to bring you to the present moment, allowing you to just ‘be’ with patience and wholeness. If you are a beginner then try an online guided meditation to get you started, find a quiet comfortable space and get to the all-encompassing place of ‘oneness’.
Don’t get lost in the whirlwind of festivities – find your feet and stay connected to the earth. There is an actual practice you can do to achieve this, and it is very simple and effective. Take off your shoes and socks, locate some natural form of ground (sand, earth, rock, etc.), and walk around on it for at least twenty minutes. The energy passing through the ground passes through you, and you can take it home with you…it’s so easy!
Stretch it out
If you don’t practice yoga or Pilates try and find a moment each day to enjoy a really good stretch. Stretching does wonders for the body and mind and can help relieve stress. Get the blood circulating, the energy flowing, and your reset button pressed!
Saying no to too many events is one way of keeping the intake down but moderating the levels of food and drink we consume over Christmas time, one where we all tend to overindulge, is imperative to keeping your stress levels down. Over-consumption can lead to fatigue, sluggishness, disrupted sleep, reduced immune system function, and an overall lack of energy or power to keep up with all the festivities. Everything in moderation!
Sleep it off
One of the vital pillars of health is that of getting your eight hours in. A good sleep each night over the festive season will hugely help to ward off the stress and anxiety. Doctors recommend a darkened room with minimal disturbances, comfortable sleeping arrangements and a bedtime routine that encourages your body and mind into a state of relaxation. Try peaceful meditative music if you have trouble getting to sleep.
Laughter is officially one of the best medicines, so whoever it is you share your Christmas with, make sure you get time to sit and have a good laugh. Release those positive endorphins and literally blast away the stress.
However you celebrate the season, be sure to do it with good cheer! We hope your holidays are merry and BRIGHT (and stress-free!).