5 Tips for Reducing Stress at Christmas
Practical tips to maintain your sanity during the festive season
This time of the year can be stressful in so many ways. So, if you find yourself under pressure in the lead up to Christmas, the following reminders will I hope prove helpful and provide some practical tips to maintain your sanity. They are simple, practical ideas, yet they can so easily be overlooked or brushed aside when overwhelmed or stressed.
Tip #1: Make sure to get plenty of sleep and create time for relaxation:
This, I confess is one that I have to be watchful of!
It’s so easy to keep on pushing yourself and then find that you’re cutting your sleep short each night. A reduction in what is your usual ideal sleep duration will quickly begin to show – in a matter of a couple of nights only.
As a result, you’re more likely to feel irritated, lack concentration and reduce good decision making. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t ever ‘catch up’ on sleep – once it’s lost, it’s lost!
Getting adequate rest is probably the most important thing anyone can do to support themselves in their life, whatever the time of year.
Tip #2: Learn to recognise when you are stressed and take steps to reduce it:
The symptoms of stress can be feelings of panic, overwhelm, irritability and sometimes confusion. Physical signs can be muscle tension, headaches, palpitations and digestive discomfort (IBS) - to name a few.
When these signs show up see them as a signal that you’re overreaching your particular stress level (we all have different levels of tolerance to stressful events) and take steps to do something about it.
That could be taking a moment to sit down or do some deep breathing. It might be scheduling a relaxing bath for later that day. Often taking time out for a chat and a laugh with a friend will be an effective tonic.
Being mindful of your stress levels is key. By taking appropriate steps to counteract stress and regroup will undoubtedly see you through the festive season.
Tip #3: Reduce the demands on yourself:
If you are a bit of a perfectionist this one is especially for you!
There’s nothing wrong with wanting things to be done well (say’s the perfectionist writing this!) but even I have to sometimes ask myself if what I am doing is absolutely necessary.
- Is that extra trip to the shop absolutely essential, today at least?
- Could you ask someone else to help you in some way? (Perfectionists are so reluctant to ask for help. We like to think that only we can do the job properly, or it's just quicker to do it yourself. But at what cost?)
- Do you really need to get the front door painted before Christmas and will anyone really notice anyway? (You get my point).
Look for ways that reduce the pressure on yourself - they are there if you look for them. Once you get into the habit of managing your time it will become second nature, which is invaluable at any time of the year and not just at Christmas.
Tip #4: Eat well and nourish your body
Tempting as it is, eating on the run and too much of the high sugar or convenience foods that are so easy to consume can end up having a detrimental effect upon your energy levels.
What's more, if you want to be feeling and looking your best in your Christmas attire, eating well now will pay off later. (Double tip - that's the mindset of a slim person!)
Nutritious food need not be complicated or take a long time to prepare or cook. I for one am very lazy when it comes to cooking and I want something quick and easy yet tasty too.
Home made soups can be done in advance and even frozen. A piece of fish or chicken cooking in the oven while cooking some veg along with rice (you can by these in ready cooked pouches) and hey presto you have a healthy dinner in 30 minutes or less.
Tip #5: Visualize Your Day:
This is my favourite tip for getting through demanding times - not just at Christmas.
The reason that visualisation is so effective is because so often we miss-use the power of our imagination without realising we are doing so!
Let me explain...
You get up in the morning and immediately start thinking about all the things that you have to do. If you start to feel overwhelmed by a busy schedule, you're going to be visualising the negatives - in other words, worrying.
When you worry, there's a part of your brain that takes notice and sends signals to other parts of your brain and body in an attempt to help you cope. The more you worry, the stronger these signals become.
This is the opposite from staying calm and relaxed!
However, when you visualise things turning out well, when you engage the power of positive expectation, a whole lot changes. I can tell you from personal experience that expectation - whether positive or negative - is a powerful thing.
So, you may just as well imagine your day's events turning out as you would like because chances are you WILL get them to be so. Besides, when things don't quite go according to plan, which is a fact of life, you'll be less bothered by them and will have the mental capacity to think around them and to problem solve far more effectively.
You can if you like, try some hypnosis to mentally rehearse and get the download Visualize Your Day. It's a skill that once mastered, will have a profound effect not just at Christmas time but for life!
Have a magical and stress free Christmas and holiday season!