Christmas can be an incredibly stressful time of year for many people. After all, there’s the pressure of trying to create the ideal Christmas, the stress of not knowing which presents to buy, and the overwhelming amount of money you’re likely to shell out. That’s not even mentioning the current levels of tension around the upcoming general election, Brexit and the climate, but that’s an article for another day.
In this article, we are looking at what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to staying stress-free over the Christmas period. You’d think it’d be easy – the time of the year where you get time off work, the chance to see your family and eat/drink as much as you like – but, for many people, it’s anything but.
Research even suggests that Christmas can heighten your risk of suffering a heart attack, so it’s important to keep as relaxed as possible. Let’s take a look at some effective ways you can do just that.
Step One: Recognise that you’re stressed.
First things first, it’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms associated with being stressed. If you’re reading this article in the first place, that’s a good start – only by admitting to yourself that you’re in need of some help will you be able to get back to feeling relaxed.
Here are some of the key signs to watch out for:
- Physical. If you start getting headaches more regularly, or have unexplained nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation, these are all major signals that you are stressed.
- Physiological. Has your mood changed recently? Are you worrying excessively? Feeling angrier or more impatient than normal? Struggling to concentrate? These are all signs you need to relax.
- Behavioural. Stress can significantly alter your behaviour so, if you find that you’re procrastinating or feeling more indecisive than normal, that’s probably a sign you’re feeling overly worked up.
Source: Pop Sugar
Step Two: Question why you’re stressed.
Knowing that you’re stressed is all well and good but, in order to combat it effectively, you need to identify what is causing you to feel that way. Are you worried about hosting a particular guest for Christmas? Are you concerned your family won’t like the presents you’ve got them? Or are you anxious about the total costs involved?
Whatever it is that’s causing you anxiety, it can be overcome. However, the process of recovery can only start once the underlying issues have been identified.
Source: Westway Clinic
Step Three: Combat your stress.
Now you know what it is that’s causing your stress, you can take the appropriate steps to stop it being such an issue.
It’s important to remember that Christmas is a time for spreading joy and cheer, so try and focus on staying positive rather than negative. Also remember that you can’t please everyone all the time – you’re only human, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself by expecting too much.
Here are a few effective ideas to combat your stress at Christmas:
Organisation is key over the Christmas period. From buying the turkey in advance to getting the presents gift-wrapped, there are a number of things you need to keep on top of. In order to stay on top of these things, it’s important to remember the three P’s: prioritise, prepare and plan.
Think about the time you have available and divide it out to each task accordingly. If something is unrealistic, don’t stress yourself out by trying to achieve it. Only set yourself achievable goals and, where possible, share your workload with other people.
Book a massage/therapy session.
If it all starts to get too much, getting help from an expert can make a real difference to your mental health. Massages and therapy sessions can do wonders for relieving stress and getting you back to a calm, relaxed state.
However, if you’re worried about the money associated with this, there are many other means of reducing your level of anxiety. Yoga classes, meditation sessions, cleaning and going for a long walk are all great, cost-effective ways of keeping your stress level at a minimum.
Spread your diary.
People often spend a lot of time catching up with friends and family over the Christmas period which, while may be a great thing on the surface, can become incredibly stressful when it comes to overly crammed schedules. To avoid this being an issue, spread your plans across all the winter months.
If you need a day or two to yourself, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – you need to prioritise yourself over the festive break. It shouldn’t feel like you’re being pulled in one direction or the other – decide for yourself what you want to do. Otherwise, you could end up burning yourself out.
Step Four: Enjoy Christmas!
Christmas isn’t designed to be stress-inducing – if anything, it’s meant to be the opposite. A time for catching up with friends and family without the burden of work, it’s called a ‘merry’ Christmas for a reason.
Saying that, it can be incredibly easy to get worked up over the festive break. If this happens to you, don’t worry – you’re not alone. The most important thing you can do is recognise that you’re stressed and not shy away from the issue. Only by tackling it head on will you be able to resolve it.
Remember that Christmas only comes around once a year, so it won’t always feel like this. Focus on yourself, get organised with your plans and, in no time at all, you’ll start feeling better.
Now, all this talk of Christmas has got me feeling festive. Anyone for a mince pie?
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