While Christmas is meant to be a time of joy and happiness, there is often a multitude of things to organize and think about, from shopping for gifts and scheduling visits with family and friends, to planning and cooking meals, and decorating your home. These, along with interruptions to our daily routine and changes in eating, sleeping and exercise, can mean that Christmas becomes a source of great stress.
Try one (or all five) of my five top suggestions to help moderate your stress levels and ensure you enjoy the festive season.
- Choose your mindset
Christmas is a time of good will, and sometimes by simply having an open mind towards any unforeseen situations the holiday season throws at you, can work wonders for your stress levels. Take time out to focus on the things you are thankful for, whether it is the people in your life, your health, or life’s simple pleasures. This can help put things into perspective and shift your focus to the positive. Seek out ways to have fun, and be compassionate to others and yourself, even if you have someone in your presence who brings you down. Listening to your favourite music or using aromatherapy oils will do wonders to uplift your mood.
- Up your water intake
It is good fun to have a tipple over Christmas but remember that with increased alcohol consumption comes increased dehydration. So, it is important to drink more water if you are going to indulge. Keeping a glass of filtered water by your bed and drinking it first thing in the morning and always carrying a bottle with filtered water with you to sip on between the bubbles are great ways to take care of yourself.
- Eat well Christmas morning
As tempting as it may be to skip breakfast in anticipation for the day’s festivities, this can be very detrimental to your energy and stress levels. Instead, start the day with a protein-packed meal such as poached or scrambled eggs on toast, or a berry smoothie with protein powder. Research shows you are less likely to overeat at lunch if you have a healthy filling breakfast, and you will be relaxed and enjoy your celebrations more.
- Take deep breaths
Sometimes the extensive list of to-dos seems never-ending, and it can be easy to get bogged down. If you are feeling like the most wonderful time of the year is not so wonderful, you are not alone. Anxiety and stress at this time of year can feel overwhelming so make sure to prioritize self-care during the holiday season. Taking deep breaths can be a simple yet effective way to relax and reduce stress during the holiday season and remember, if people offer to lend a hand, accept it gracefully. And if they do not, simply ask for help. This is a time of giving and receiving.
- Keep moving
Among the multitude of jobs and engagements, it can feel difficult to maintain regularity. Routines that you have worked hard to build throughout the year might be interrupted. If you are struggling to fit in exercise during the festive season, get outside and enjoy nature. Taking a walk or spending time in nature can be a wonderful way to clear your mind. The fresh air and beautiful scenery can help you feel more cheerful, energized, and burn off any excess calories. Some research suggests that spending time in nature may also have physical benefits, such as reducing inflammation and chronic pain, and improving cardiovascular health.
We all want Christmas to be a special time of year, but often we can place extremely grand expectations on ourselves, with the fear that failing to meet these will lead to frustration and disappointment for ourselves and those around us.
Celebrate your own journey, instead of worrying about what others are doing, and take the time to look after yourself at Christmas. This might include getting enough sleep, eating well, and finding time to relax and unwind. Do not feel guilty if you need to take time out from the chaos to prioritize self-care during the holiday season. Remember, this is your special time too!