Christmas can be a magical time of year, but there’s no doubt that for some of us, it increases our stress and anxiety levels to record levels. The pressure that we feel to achieve everything, keep everyone happy and enjoy ourselves at the same time can be overwhelming and soon takes it toll on our mental and physical health.
Here’s how to change that...
I’ve created a list of 10 ways to reduce stress this Christmas, some of them help prevent stress and anxiety from building up, and others tackle it once it begins. Find one thing that feels manageable and start building it into your day so that you can look forward to less stress and more happiness this Christmas.
HAVE SELF COMPASSION
If there’s a time of year that you need to show yourself a little more kindness, then this is it because you’re doing your best. And so what if that doesn’t quite match the ideals in your head or the expectations of others. If you need a few more tips on how to turn down the volume of your inner critic and show yourself more kindness, then here are my favourites.
EMBRACE DONE OVER PERFECT
As a reformed perfectionist myself, I know that this time of year pushes every button when you have perfectionist tendencies. Learning to loosen up was the best thing I ever did because it allows me to enjoy Christmas with all of its imperfections (and don’t they sometimes turn out to be the best parts anyway)! I encourage you to embrace done over perfect this Christmas - it’s not always easy the first time around, but in time you learn to accept - and smile about - the things that you just can’t control.
SAY NO MORE OFTEN
So many of us overextend our selves at this time of year, saying yes to every invitation and request. Rather than saying yes to things that you’d rather not do try the alternative and learn how to say no - here are a few tips to help you say no with a little grace and without losing friends.
LEAVE SPACE FOR YOURSELF
Most of us have overloaded ‘to-do’ lists at this time of year, and it’s easy to neglect ourselves to get everything else done. The result? Things get done, but you feel exhausted. The solution is simply to create a little time for yourself. Try planning a few quiet evenings, spending more time in meditation or exercising more - whatever works for you, as long as it helps you reach Christmas feeling refreshed rather than burnt out.
Christmas is full of magic, but while we’re multi-tasking our way through those never-ending lists, it’s so easy to miss those special moments. By slowing down and experiencing the moments while they happen - rather than worrying about the past or the next thing that we have to do - we can enjoy and share more of ourselves with those we love.
ASK FOR HELP
Asking for help can be a challenge for a lot of us because we think that we should be able to manage everything ourselves. But, if you can give it a try, you’ll feel the benefits. Start by making a list of everything that needs to get done on the lead up to the holidays; remove anything that’s not essential and see if there’s anything that someone else can easily help with. While we don’t want to add to anyone else’s responsibilities, there are often people around you that have more free time and would love the opportunity to contribute.
AVOID EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL
I’m sure that most of us have reached for another glass of wine when our stress levels have felt out of control because, in the short term, it feels like it helps. But sadly, it doesn’t. Alcohol causes dehydration, overworks the essential work that your liver needs to do, and it sometimes makes us say things we shouldn’t! So, take it easy and be sure to drink plenty of water over the holidays to counterbalance any alcohol that you do enjoy.
Getting some fresh air and exercise is a great way to reduce stress and create a time for yourself too. And it needn’t take long because research has shown that even a brisk 10-minute walk can get your happy hormones flowing and lift your mood. So, when it all feels like too much, pick up your coat and take a wander with your dog or just around the neighbourhood alone - you’ll feel better in no time.
RECOGNISE THE SIGNS
When we’re busy it’s easy to ignore the warning signs that our body is giving us. Look out for symptoms like disturbed sleep, headaches and mood swings because they’re all signs that you’re stress levels are elevated. Rather than try and push through them, pause and find time to rest; sit down with a warm drink, take a nap or catch up with a good friend. Learning to recognise the signs helps you to take action sooner rather than later and prevent stress from getting out of control.
No matter what you have planned for the season ahead, I hope that these tips help you to reduce stress this Christmas and create the time you need to enjoy it however you want to.
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.