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Managing Christmas Stress

The build-up to Christmas can become quite over-whelming and stressful. About 53% of consumers plan to leave Christmas shopping until the last Saturday before Christmas. A-lot of people also this time of the year suffer from great financial hardship, loneliness and depression.

So here are some ways you can manage some of that Christmas stress and be the best version of you:

  1. It’s lovely to catch-up with friends and family leading up to Christmas, but if you are finding that you are struggling with time around work commitments, family, Christmas parties and fatigue, re-schedule for after Christmas and the New Years. Making a telephone call or writing to someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in quite a while can be a thoughtful and caring gesture that could really make a difference to someones mental well-being at Christmas.
  2. Buying gifts to give at Christmas you may love and get great joy out of or loathe. Try to plan what you will buy this Christmas and set a budget. Keep receipts in-case there are double-ups and gifts need returning. Many people receive unwanted gifts at Christmas that end up being put away out of sight, given away, returned or re-gifted. Other ideas may be doing Secret Santa and all pull one name out of a hat on who to buy for, instead of buying for everyone. You could get together with family or friends and all put money in to buy one gift to give as a surprise. Consider what their needs are.. what would really help them out .. maybe it could be a practical gift that they don’t have time to fix, the funds to arrange or there health issue preventing them from completing a task around the home?
  3. Don’t stress about your finances. Set a budget of what you can easily afford this Christmas.. as the saying goes “it’s the thought that counts” Hopefully your family are the kind that are grateful, understanding and don’t judge you on the price tag or size of your gift. 
  4. Surround yourself with people who you enjoy being around that build you up.
  5. If you can feel stress building up, mindfulness practices are a great way to reverse the fight-or-flight response and bring the mind and body back to that relaxed state of equilibrium and balance. There are a few quick breathing techniques to try. The aim here is to focus your attention or mind on the breath, as it enters and leaves the body. Breathing in slow, deliberate breaths in through the nose down into the lungs, filling up the lungs and expanding the stomach area as well. Hold this for a second or two then gently and calmly releasing.. breathing out slowly and while doing this image the stress and tension leaving the body. Repeat, and this time breathing in imagine positive, calm energy entering either in the form of a colour or as white light. If your mind begin wandering or getting involved in mind chatter again,  just observe the breathe and the thoughts, but the aim is not to build on those thoughts or mind chatter. Repeat the process of breathing in and out for a count of 10. 
  6. Another mindfulness practice is to find an object that is appeasing to you to focus your gaze gently on, for example a burning candle, or perhaps being in nature, a flower, the beach, birds and just mindfully focus the mind on this object, while doing some slow deliberate breaths in and out, again the aim here is to observe the thoughts but not build on them and to invoke the relaxation response through calming breathing techniques. We are aiming to reverse the fight-or-flight response that has started in your body.
  7. Doing some slow stretching while including breathing techniques is another great way to release tension and calm the mind and body.
  8.  Scan your body and posture. Do you notice any tense muscles or feel you’re not holding your posture well, breathe deep and gently move the area to release the tension and correct your posture. Gently moving of tense muscles along with deep breathing instantly stimulates the relaxation response in the body and releases stress.
  9.  You can try listening to some upbeat or relaxing music to soothe the mind and change your mood.
  10.  Aromatherapy is a powerful tool in instantly relaxing the mind and body also. The chemical components of essential oils have an effect on the Limbic System of the brain which is involved in motivation, emotion, learning and memory and can instantly relax, calm and soothe the mind.
  11. Take care of you – make time each day to do something you enjoy that de-stresses the body.
  12.  Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep, so your body can re-charge it’s batteries and fill you with energy and vitality .