The C word is CHRISTMAS
When will the decorations, clothing and advertising begin this year I wonder?, it seems to get earlier and earlier, as the advertising train begins the mammoth task of getting us to part with more and more of our hard earned money.
But it’s meant to be the most wonderful time of the year, it’s also one of the most stressful times of the year for so many, with the holidays being a mass of social interactions with friends and family. The level of perceived expectation to create the perfect Christmas (cue the latest John Lewis ad), with presents and possibly the most important meal of the year, all the while maintaining the persona of being exceedingly happy and looking fabulous (snap that Instagram photo) can test even the most ardent stead fast Monk/ Yogi.
Rather than being “the season to be jolly” with all the cooking, decorating, visiting, and gift giving, the holidays can seem more like trying to meet a high pressure deadline and a source of great stress, pressure and conflict, leaving us feeling overwhelmed by the excess of it all as well as depressed by the thought of not quite measuring up to the expectation (cue John Lewis ad again).
One common factor that contributes massively to the stress is a lack of money, leaving most people no option but to pay for Christmas by plastic, as we try to buy that perfect gift, or perfect outfit or attend every event so not to have FOMO syndrome (Fear Of Missing Out)
We know the effects that sustained stress can have on our body, as well as the impact on our mind our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which in turn can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity if left unchecked.
So here at Mindful Warriors we’ve compiled a list of 7 Christmas stress busting strategies to ease the strain.
1. Limit spending
Set that spending limit. First of all, make sure that all your usual expenses are accounted for so that you do not fall short on bills such as rent. Plan for any other spending over the holidays, including any parties you may be hosting or traveling to visit friends or family. Once these items have been accounted for, you can then work out how much you can spend on gifts. Being organized and realistic about your budget will help you to ensure that you do not overspend.
Keep in mind what is important. Overspending can overshadow the true sentiment of Christmas. If your expense list exceeds your monthly budget, keep in mind that your relationships with friends and family are more important than material objects. I personally don’t do presents anymore; rather I meet friends and family face to face and enjoy a meal together.
2. Plan Ahead
Start making a list of things you need to do for Christmas early: for example, shopping, food and presents, decorations or travel arrangements. Make the list as detailed as possible. Try to prioritise the items on your list: can they be done now, and are they essential? Do not overestimate how much you can achieve on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Many recipes can, at least in part, be made ahead of time and frozen thus reducing tasks in the immediate run up to Christmas Day. Get help by delegating the responsibility for certain tasks to other family members, this will reduce your workload and make it more of a team effort.
3. Avoid Excessive Alcohol
The best thing is to avoid alcohol altogether, but let’s be honest it’s Christmas, do try however to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol as it dehydrates the body while making the liver work overtime to process it, make the effort to drink as much water (mix with ice) as alcohol, you will feel better and therefore cope more effectively with stressful situations, as well as waking up on Boxing Day without the massive hangover, check out drink aware to find out more.
4. Keep Calm
Notice your stress triggers, and as they start to manifest try these tips, play some relaxing music, call that one friend that you have that it doesn’t matter how stressed you feel somehow has the power to pick you up, burn some scented candles, incense or aromatherapy oil, take a relaxing bath or get that massage, keep up with your regular meditation practice, even if it’s just 5 minutes.
With the many things to do, along with the excessive eating and drinking it’s easy to overlook your usual exercise routine, exercise is the best way to reduce stress as it burns off hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and helps produce mood enhancing endorphins, creating natural painkilling chemicals that are released in the brain that improve your ability to get a better night’s sleep, so get on that yoga mat, go to the gym, go for a run or swim, or even better go for a walk with the family after dinner, engaging in an activity as simple as going for walk together reduces the stress at an even higher rate.
When we become stressed our breath is the first thing to change, it becomes shallow and speeds up, our heart rates increases triggering our fight or flight reaction, reversing this reaction is simple, take deep full breaths, taking a full breath in through the nose to the base of the abdomen, holding the breath inside for a count of 5, then slowly taking the full breath out through the nose, completely emptying the lungs, do this at least 12 times or for as many times as you feel comfortable.
7. Laugh and Have Fun
Be kind to yourself, remember it’s your Christmas too, so give yourself the joy of having some fun, laugh and enjoy the process and experience, create those lifelong memories of all the funny things that make Christmas and being with friends and family so magical.
If all else fails watch the link below and laugh it all away, laughter is the best medicine, it lightens your mood, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and also releases endorphins, it also boosts circulation and helps muscles relax.
Whether your laughter is motivated by side splitting moments watching your favorite movie, Christmas cracker jokes at the dinner table, or an afternoon of fun activities, be sure to include some holiday humor into your plans. Try some laughter yoga here.
I would also like to add that Christmas is also one of the loneliest times for people because when they see adverts of happy families, where everybody is getting together. They are quickly reminded of their own loneliness. Loneliness is a silent killer for many and Theresa May has just launched 20 million worth of funding to tackle this issue, if you know of someone that will be alone over the Christmas period, please keep an eye on them and if possible, include them into your plans, and most of all, remember to be kind to yourself and to everyone else.