Christmas brings joy, happy times and laughter for many. But it can also bring stress, anxiety and the potential for family tensions to fizz over. Whether it's the stress of hosting, difficult dynamics or simply being stuck indoors away from the comfort of your own home, there are many triggers that can raise the stress levels.
There's little you can change when it comes to family dynamics and the chosen location for a family gathering. But there are things you can do to help manage and reduce stress and anxiety over Christmas.
Today I’m sharing 4 steps to get you started and will share more in my next blog post tomorrow.
1. Emotional Stress Relief (ESR)
This very simple kinesiology technique is effective at lowering stress and taking the edge off of stressful situations. Perfect for Christmas day and the days leading up to the 25th. It can also be used when anxious about an upcoming event. So, if the thought of seeing a difficult relation over Christmas fills you with dread, then ESR will be perfect for you.
How to do it:
You simply hold the 5 points on your head at the same time when feeling stressed or thinking about a past or future stress. This helps improve blood flow to the brain and especially the part of the brain that deals with emotions.
Forehead: on the bumps on the forehead midway between the eyebrows and hairline. Hold with little fingers.
Edge of temples: back from the eyes to the vertical hairline, just forward of the ears. Hold with thumbs
Top of head: on the soft "baby spot" on centre line of head where there is probably a slit dip. Hold with one index finger.
Don’t worry if you can’t do this around the table at Christmas, try the SIMPLE VERSION: just hold the points on the forehead or even simpler, just put your hand across your forehead.
2. Visualise the Christmas you want
The Law of Attraction suggests we attract what we want by positively focusing on it. Put it out there what you want to happen, how you want Christmas to be and it's more likely to happen. If you expect it to be a stress-filled, boring or tedious experience, you are likely to experience this reality.
Maybe this is as much about having a positive mindset as it is about the universe turning your vision into reality but hey, it works, and it's free so give it a go.
Visualise clearly the vision of a positive Christmas, seeing the people, the location, the meal. Do this for at least 5 minutes on the days leading up to Christmas and open yourself up to a positive Christmas experience
3. Get the sleep you need
This might seem like the words of a party pooper but lack of sleep is scientifically proven to make us more emotional, with the part of the brain dealing with human interaction being less effective when sleep deprived. And did you know that sleep deprivation is anything less than 7 hours sleep?
In the days leading up to Christmas, the frantic buying of presents, food shopping and general preparation can leave us tired and low in energy. Add to this late nights out or in, then there is potential for starting Christmas in a sleep deprived, emotionally fragile state.
I’m a very big advocate for getting the sleep we need so make a point of planning some early nights. Waking up refreshed is going to put you in a great state of mind for dealing with the merriment and intensity of Christmas.
4. Plan time outside and avoid cabin fever
Christmas often means being cooped up inside for longer than would be normal on a regular day. Getting outside for some fresh air and natural daylight is essential to avoid cabin fever. Don’t wait for cabin fever to hit in but have a plan to get out at least once a day. Go out and take some deep breaths, and enjoy a walk in nature if you can. Don’t wait for someone to suggest it; have a plan for when and where to go. I always went to football on Boxing Day and it was my way to get out of the house. Now, with a dog in tow, a walk in a park will be my focus for making sure I get outside.
5. Meditate some stresses away
When so much is going on and your mind is busy, getting mindful can bring you back to the here and now and help manage your stress levels. Focusing on the present and on your breath diverts thinking from the to-do list, any anxiety or from a current stressful situation.
Meditation is proven to lower stress levels and reduce anxiety. There are guided meditations that take you through the process, either on an app like Headspace or on YouTube.
Find just 5-10 minutes a day in the days leading up to Christmas to reduce the busyness and stress buzzing in your head. If things get heated on Christmas, be prepared to take 5 minutes out to take some deep breaths. Enjoy this quiet time, connecting with your body and step back from any stresses around you.
6. Accept the imperfect and lower expectations
There's so much expectation about everything being perfect on Christmas Day and anything less being deemed a failure. Christmas is great but I feel expectations can be too high and when they are, we open ourselves up to feeling like a failure.
Does it really matter if the potatoes don’t crisp up or if the gravy is over reduced? Or even if you forgot to defrost that lovely desert. In the great scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. Keep expectations realistic and embrace being perfectly imperfect. Your guests will love what you provide and will be full of gratitude.
I hope some of these 6 steps will help you have a calm and stress-free Christmas, and that you and those around you enjoy the festivities. Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2019.