How to deal with the stress of Christmas (plus free bonus Christmas gift)

18 Dec 2017

With Christmas Day just over a week away, how’s your stress level?

Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy but for many it’s stressful. Why? Because of the additional demands it brings such as the pressure to buy gifts, to socialise more, planning festive meals, preparing for an influx of visitors. Once these demands accumulate to the point where they exceed our available resources (such as our time, energy, motivation, willpower, budget etc) we automatically experience stress.

To help ensure that your Christmas is more joyful than stressful here are three highly effective, proven ways to reduce stress at Chirstmas and any time of the year:

  1. Physical activity
  2. Relaxation techniques
  3. Sleep – the right amount and quality

Physical activity

Physical activity can be used to metabolize the excessive stress hormones flowing around your body. It can help restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.

When you feel stressed go for a brisk walk in fresh air.  Schedule some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime.  Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.

Relaxation techniques

Schedule time each day for one or more relaxation techniques. There are many tried and tested ways to trigger the Relaxation Response and switch off the Stress Response. Here are a couple of examples:

§  Shift your focus to the present moment for a couple of minutes. To do this focus on a part of your body, such as a foot, and notice what you notice about it - its temperature, does it feel heavy or light, what sensations are there?

§  Breathe deeply for a couple of minutes ensuring your out-breath is slightly longer than the your breath. As you breathe just focus on the breath and every time your mind wanders bring it back to the breath.

Don't worry if you find it difficult to relax at first. Relaxation is a skill that needs to be learned and will improve with practice.

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 Sleep – the right amount and quality

Sleep plays a vital role in our health and wellbeing. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help you maintain your mental and physical health and your quality of life. The physical effects of a lack of good, quality sleep are themselves, stressors, which help raise or maintain our stress level.

To enjoy the right quantity and quality of sleep:

a.     Make sure your bedroom is a tranquil oasis.

b.     Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep.

c.     Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down.

d.     Practice a relaxation technique before going to bed.

e.     Take a warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes.

f.      Aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine.

A final bonus stress relieving tip – multiple studies indicate that pets are powerful forms of stress relief, lowering harmful stress hormones like cortisol and elevating beneficial ones like oxytocin, which is linked to happiness and relaxation. If you’d like to experience this relief for yourself, you’ve still got time to ask Santa to leave a cute pet (like the puss in the picture) under the Xmas tree on Xmas morning!

Wishing you a very happy, joyful and safe holiday season, and good health and success in 2018.

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