The 2018 Christmas Wellbeing Guide
Christmas Wellbeing, not two words we would ever expect to see next to one another…..
The festive anticipation builds up all year long; no sooner have the crackers been pulled and last of the turkey been eaten, does the lurking thought of ‘next December’ creep into the back of your mind. It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful – especially if all of the organising and running of the season rests on your shoulders. Here’s some of my top tips on how to minimise and avoid the stress of the festive period without skipping out on all the fun bits – I assure you Christmas Wellbeing adds to the fun, it doesn’t take away from it.
We stay up later than usual and quite often find ourselves getting up at strange hours, kids and other family are a predominant driver behind this. You need to ensure you get a decent 7 or 8 hours ideally each night, this will give you the resilience required to take on the day ahead. If you start your day on empty then you can only expect the worst from there on out. Take it in shifts to do family related obligations and don’t spend too much time staring at a screen in the half an hour before you go to sleep, the blue light from screens inhibits good sleep.
It is better to read from a book or magazine or actually talk to real human beings! This is my personal Christmas Wellbeing fave at because these guys aren’t all going to be in one place until this time next year and nothing makes me happier than family and great memories.
This might sound like an easy approach but that doesn’t mean prioritising your activities this holiday should be underestimated. What’s at the top of your list? Getting the turkey? Presents? Arranging travel? Whatever it is, make sure you get that done first and then work from there. Have everything you need to do written down in a list and enjoy the euphoria of crossing each one off as you accomplish it. This will give you a clear idea of what needs doing and the best path to take in order to achieve your goals. Prioritising your to-do list should always be your first port of call before diving headfirst into wrapping paper and mince pies, and it will put you in good stead for avoiding stress right from the outset.
Probably the most ‘unfestive’ routine I follow in my Christmas Wellbeing routine, finding time for my daily meditation and mindfulness exercises can be challenging and feel very odd. That said, it is absolutely key especially if you are a regular meditator that you don’t fall out of habit for too long or you will find yourself quite literally in a slump! The aim this festive period is to be happy – so stick to those routines that maintain the happy hormone levels your brain feeds off throughout the year from all the good wellbeing work you do.
Focused breathing is often recommended in the practice of mindfulness and it’s an effective way to combat stress and anxiety. So, when you’re marching your way through a shopping centre to find that extra special gift, you should take a moment to stop and focus before it all gets too much. Make sure that you’re breathing in the correct way – deeply and slowly right to the pit of your stomach – and feel those anxious feelings melt away with every exhale.
Caffeine & alcohol
I’m not going to try and take your morning coffee away from you or say you can’t have any booze this holiday, don’t worry! There’s nothing wrong with having that early-morning boost or a few glasses of mulled wine to see you through the day. But having too much will do nothing to reduce your stress or anxiety about the pending festivities. Caffeine and alcohol can elevate the production of a hormone called cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’, which is the body’s natural response to stress.
However, when produced in mass amounts the hormone can cause chronic stress, which in itself can lead to even worse effects. Opting for a de-caffeinated hot drink or, even better, water will help keep your cortisol levels at a minimum and help you avoid going into a stress-related overdrive.
Also remember Christmas Wellbeing is not just in the mind – think about taking a morning vitamin C supplement. Nothing makes me more stressed than getting sick and bunged up, so take proactive steps to staying physically fit and healthy this Christmas and it will help you mentally too.
Don’t be afraid to delegate
As the saying goes, sharing is caring. There’s nothing wrong with communicating that you need help, or with lining up the troops to assist with smaller tasks to free up your time. For example, don’t hesitate to involve Christmas lunch guests with peeling the spuds and prepping the veg whilst you sort out the meat and make the stuffing. As with all stress, sharing your worries or concerns with people who can help might be the key to lessening the pressures placed upon you. There’s nothing wrong with asking – especially if it gets you out of doing the washing up.
Ultimately, the key to avoid feeling too stressed over the Christmas period lies in having a clear idea of what needs to be done, taking extra steps to look after yourself and keep healthy, and also calling on others to lend a helping hand when needed.
If you feel as though symptoms of stress are affecting your everyday life and you need help to mange them, visit your local GP or give me a shout and I will be happy to direct you to the relevant professional to give you the best support.