Christmas can be a very stressful time of the year for many reasons, and while I get that it is supposed to be a season of goodwill, many of us are getting a bit Buble’d out already! I am all for a bit of Fairytale of New York, or even Snoopy’s Christmas, but I have one colleague who actually enjoys looping Buble through the clinic sound system for my particular listening pleasure. This year, however, I am prepared with industrial strength ear plugs! Ahhh the Peace!
When you think about it, the reality is that for many, this is a time of mass interaction with people – family, relatives, people whose company you enjoy immensely, people you would rather not see, or only see once a year, work functions and end of year deadlines to meet – Plus the Christmas shopping, and the tree, and the kids and….
This is because Christmas has become more about PRESENTS than PRESENCE in my opinion. Christmas should be about love, and family, friends and spiritual significance - whether you are religious or not.
We put such a lot of pressure on ourselves to create a wonderful Christmas when, really, these are perceived expectations we set for ourselves.
Some people rate Christmas as being more stressful than divorce or being burgled! It shouldn’t be THAT stressful surely!
I find the energy and busy-ness of malls particularly “jingly” and not in a Christmas kind of way! Thank God for on-line shopping.
From a physical point of view, the liver and adrenal glands take a hammering with all the extra stress hormones released, food eaten and alcohol consumed. Sometimes, even sorting out a secret santa present is stressful! You know, that time when you manage to pull the office grinches name from the hat!
So I have prepared a few tips to de-stress your Christmas a little! Don’t let the festive season get you down, enjoy it, with a little prior planning. This is what I am aiming to do!
When you feel fit and healthy your body and mind are more able to cope with the inevitable ups and downs of Christmas.
It might not be what you want to hear, but we all know that overindulging can make you feel worse if you have a pre-existing health condition. Even those of us with robust constitutions can overtax our kidneys and livers, so make sure you also fit in some exercise, plenty of sleep, and alternate the indulgent days with some lighter food and drink. Bach Rescue Remedy or Puraty De Stress Tea can be a real boon at these times.
Start making a list of things you need to do for Christmas such as shopping, food and presents, decorations, seating plans or travel arrangements. Try to prioritise the items on your list: can they be done now, and are they essential?
Don’t overestimate how much you can do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Who wants to spend the day clocking up over 10,000 steps on the pedometer running from table to kitchen? Many recipes can, in part, be made ahead of time and frozen reducing tasks in the immediate run-up to Christmas Day. Delegate the responsibility for certain tasks to other family members – remember this is YOUR day too!
Although shopping locally has many advantages, shopping just before Christmas can be particularly stressful in crowded malls and supermarkets. If you haven’t already tried it, you can do your food shopping online too and have it delivered directly to your door.
Keep Calm and Breathe
Play some relaxing music and burn some scented candles, incense or aromatherapy oil. A relaxing hot bath to unwind in is my idea of bliss!
When you're stressed, notice your breath. Is it shallow? If it is, you can practice deep breathing anywhere. Deep slow belly breathing at the traffic lights, standing in line, sitting down at your desk, bathroom break ... anywhere. Deep belly breathing reduces stress and tension almost immediately.
Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. and stick to it!!
It's okay to decline the last party invitation you received. And I promise you, no one (and I mean no one) will die if you say no.
Limit your alcohol consumption.
Let’s be realistic, it is Christmas! Alternating an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic one will keep you hydrated and less likely to get intoxicated! You still can enjoy your wine but you won't have a headache the next day and you won't wake up feeling like you've been hit by a bus.
Make time for you. If you have to, make an appointment with yourself every day for 15 minutes. Longer if you can. Trust me, when you make the time to take care of you, you'll find you have more to give to others. Don't let your internal gas tank run empty.
Take one thing off your holiday to-do list. A few years ago I stopped sending out Christmas cards and I'm pretty sure no one noticed except relatives who mentioned it to my Mum. By deleting this one to-do I reduced my stress ten-fold. What one thing can you scratch off your list?
If there is someone coming to dinner that you dislike or who actively dislikes each other, avoid sitting opposite them and instead seat them to one side and opposite somebody who they get on with better. If they are still going to make a fuss, let it be their responsibility and leave them to get on with it!
Have a 'Great Escape' Plan!
It's a good idea to have some pre-planned excuses to escape from proceedings if they get too stressful.
Be imaginative and use things such as leaving the room to make a phone-call to a friend, needing to pick some herbs from the garden, or perhaps “checking on a neighbour”. Taking time out is a necessary part of self-care! Just by having planned a couple of escape routes you’ll probably feel less stressed anyway but actually leaving the situation, even for 10 minutes, will help clear your mind and relax you.
Make Time for Exercise
Christmas is, for many, a time of excessive eating and drinking and exercise can be easily overlooked. Diets are particularly popular in January! Exercise is a great way to reduce stress as it burns off hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which Christmas stress has increased, and helps produce mood-enhancing endorphins. Try going for a walk after dinner as the fresh air and exercise will lift your mood and make you feel better.
Merry Christmas to you all – May it be one of Joy, Laughter, Love and Blessings!