There are many sources of stress over the festive season. The shops are packed, the kids are off school, you’ve many people to cook for or buy for, and you might be feeling anxious about spending time with certain family members.
However, it is important to remember- if you’re lucky enough to get some time off at Xmas – this is YOUR holiday too. Instead of running yourself into the ground, worrying about pleasing everyone else, there are a few things you can do to promote relaxation this Xmas and enjoy a restful, peaceful break.
Breath in and out. When you feel stressed, your brain produces the fight-or-flight response which boosts your body with nervous energy. However, breathing can help to center you, to calm this nervous energy, and to make you more present. Try breathing in for 3 counts – letting your stomach inflate with air, and then exhale for 5 counts, breathing it back out.
Time for tea. Although it’s tempting to enjoy a steamy cappuccino or sugary, festive latte, you might benefit from opting for a tea instead. Chamomile tea helps to calm nerves and is actually a very mild sedative so is a great option – but any herbal tea will be beneficial.
Hit the pavements. With the extra time on your hands, there’s no excuses for not working out. Although, it can feel like a chore, head outdoors and enjoy the freshness of a crisp Winter day. Exercising 3 times a week can help your immune system, boost your endorphins, and help you sleep better by easing your stress.
Eat well. ‘Tis the season to indulge right? While it’s good to enjoy treats over the holidays, do so with caution, and be sure to continue including plenty of fresh fruits and leafy vegetables into your diet. An excess of coffee, alcohol and sugary or fatty foods can make you feel more stressed by over-stimulating the nervous system and can cause imbalances in organs like the liver.
Let things go. When your family is driving you crazy or you can feel your stress levels rising with the snide comments made by your mother-in-law, remember that the way you’re feeling is within your control. You cannot control the things others will do and say but you can control how you respond. Change the way you perceive and react to a situation by choosing to let some things go.
Time for a bath. Taking a bath can help to release the tension in your muscles and alleviate you from stressful thoughts and feelings. Magnesium oil can improve these results and if you rub it over your arms and legs before bed, it soothes the senses, calming and relaxing the body for a restful night’s sleep.
Practise mindfulness. Mindfulness is proven to be effective at combating stress and anxiety, and can be practised through meditation, yoga or even a quiet, thoughtful walk. The benefits also include an optimism boost and it promotes the release of endorphins – natural mood-lifting pain-killers!
Prioritise sleep. With so many plans and promises you’ve made, you might believe that it’s better to cut your sleep short in order to keep up with your busy schedule. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s believed that 10:30pm is the best time for a good night’s sleep as the Qi (energy) in the liver regenerates at 11pm, which they believe controls many of our emotions. Plus, our body goes into repair between 10:30pm and 2:30am with the release of cortisol, which will put stress on your body if you’re awake too late.
Count your blessings. If you feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, it’s been proven beneficial to make a list of all the things you are grateful to have in your life. It is important though to be specific about what you’re grateful for and provide examples that demonstrate your point. You might find yourself feeling happier in no time.
The holidays are exciting and fun and wonderful and memorable, but these feelings can so easily be overtaken with feelings of anxiety, stress and excessive pressure. The time will fly by, and you’ll soon find yourself back at work with the kids back at school, resuming your usual routine. So, be sure to optimise your time off. Use this as a chance to not only spend with friends and family, but also to spend some time on yourself.
If you find yourself experiencing stress this season, maybe you’re struggling with a difficult relative, you’re having financial worries, or you might be feeling lonely, my online 30-minute Talk to Carole sessions are available throughout the holidays, suitable for individuals or couples. This is an opportunity for you to talk through your challenges and together, we can come up with ways to overcome them, in a safe, quiet space.
Bulletproof yourself from holiday stress with these tips to help you promote rest and relaxation this Xmas.