Even though ‘tis the season to be jolly, for many Christmas is a time of intense stress and anxiety. Pressure can come from many sources, such as finding the money for presents, hosting unwanted guests, making sure everyone else is having fun, socialising at work parties and the struggle of sticking to a healthy routine. All this on top of daily life demands such as shopping, cleaning, laundry and exercise. It’s exhausting just writing it. Beating the Christmas stress can be exhausting.
It doesn’t help when society, and ourselves, add the pressure to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas and show ourselves (thanks to socia media), having the best, most spectacular time, at all times. Seeing, or perceiving, that everyone around you is having a better time brings about difficult anxiety and can enhance our negative thoughts and feelings leaving a person feeling alone and insecure.
The accumulated stress coming at us from all angles results in burnout, damaging our physical and mental health. Whatever the cause of your Christmas stress, it’s important you learn to deal with it before it affects your health.
Below I offer you effective coping strategies based upon Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy and Mindful Meditation. Try them out and see what works best for you 🙂
Schedule in ‘ME’ Time
Give yourself the permission to slow down this Christmas and take time out to nourish yourself. The best way to do this is to give yourself five minutes each day to sit in meditation or watch your breath as it flows in and out. You will be amazed how this simple practice will give you energy, mental clarity and a sense of peace and wellbeing. Other things you can do include having a lie in, a bubble bath, a massage, sitting down to watch some sport or read a book. Whatever it is, make time for you - without feeling guilty!
Listen to Your Needs
Write a list reminding yourself of what this time of year means to you. Is it quality time with family and friends? Is it disconnecting from work and recharging your battery? Or celebrating your religion? If ever you find yourself overwhelmed or stressed, you can check in with this list and see if it aligns with your holiday needs. If it doesn’t do you really need to do it?
You can’t possibly please everyone, so stop striving to create the perfect Christmas. The idea of “perfection” is an illusion and you will only make yourself weary trying to achieve it. So what if the turkey’s dry or you’ve heard all the cracker jokes before, remember what’s important to you. If you learn to embrace the change of plans or the things that go wrong with a laugh, you’ll find that not only you, but everyone involved, will have a much better time. Take a deep breath, and enjoy Christmas just the way it is.
Make Exercise a Priority
This doesn’t have to be a full blown gym workout or a 10k run, but exercise has been proven to reduce levels of stress. Fitting in a daily dose of exercise clears the mind and improves the quality of your sleep meaning that you will be on top form every day. Make it fun by getting friends or family involved Even something as simple as a brisk walk will stop stress in its tracks. So go on, schedule in your boxing day walk now!
Spend Time Outside
I know, I know it’s so cold and trust me, I feel ya. I feel the cold in such an extreme way (like wearing thermals throughout the summer kinda way) and I find this such a challenge to do. But the effect it has on my overall mood and wellbeing makes it absolutely worth it. Now I like t wrap up warm in coats, hats and scarves and go embrace nature knowing how it will lift my spirits. Spending time outside relieves anxiety, providing us with natural light and the much loved Vitamin D.
Be Kind to Your Feelings
The festive season brings joy, love and laughter, but it also brings sadness. Spending time with family members can make emotions run high. For some, Christmas time may bring feelings of sadness or difficulty in remembering loved who have died. Be kind and let yourself feel the emotions that arise. Trying to ignore or repress negative emotions will just make them come out elsewhere, maybe more aggressively. It’s okay to feel frustrated or cry and remember to seek help if you need extra support.
Don’t forget to be compassionate towards yourself! If you end up eating more than you wanted, or drank one too many free glasses of bubbles, then that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it or question yourself as a person. The last thing we need is to be making ourselves feel unnecessarily guilty with negative thoughts. Self compassion also means taking the opportunity to reflect on the year you have had. Smile to yourself at all the things you have achieved or accomplished. Acknowledge all the hard work you have put into your work, friends, hobbies and self.
Contact a Friend
If you are feeling lonely or blue try reaching out to someone rather than isolating yourself. Perhaps there is a community cause that you can volunteer with to keep yourself occupied. Not only are you doing good to the society, you will create good feelings within yourself. Extra volunteers are always needed at Christmas time. If you’re not sure where look at local soup kitchens or homeless shelters.
No one expects you to do everything this Christmas. What’s more is some people may feel appreciated and included by you asking for their help. Get some help chopping the veggies or wrapping the presents. If you’re find something overwhelming or too challenging, call in for reinforcement, you don’t have to struggle alone.
Get in the Festive Spirit
Being a grinch about Christmas and expecting the worse only heightens the chance that we won’t enjoy the holiday. Try letting go any preconceived ideas about what Christmas is and allow yourself to come to the holiday with fresh eyes. Watch a Christmas movie, play some family games, or create new traditions.
I hope that these tips give you the tools to relieve any possible Christmas stress you may have. Discover what this time of year means to you, whatever that may be, and have a fantastic time. Cognitive Hypnotherapy teaches you how to relax and keep calm amidst stress and anxiety. It also changes your current perspective and the way you see the world around you. Through breathing exercises, visualisation and relaxation techniques you can overcome your stress around the festive holidays.
Want more ideas on how to have an enjoyable Christmas, check out how to add a touch of mindfulness to the festive holidays here.
For the month of December I will be offering half price online consultations via Zoom, so do get in touch.
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