Managing Stress: With numerous Christmas parties, traditions and increased spending we often remain susceptible to stress and tension.
Do you recognize the warning signs of stress?
Stress often manifests in irritability, impatience, tiredness, dreading the next social engagement, physical tension and difficulty sitting still. Christmas can be a stressful time, and often alcohol is the method of choice to relieve the pressure. Even though it is only once a year, it is important to look for other ways to relive stress. Furthermore, recognize your limits, saying yes when you don’t want to go to another party in order not to offend anyone can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Set boundaries for yourself, it is ok to say ‘‘no’’ to something you don’t want to do. Apply the ‘’less is more’’ rule when saying no. Let go of the long explanations in favor of short and sweet: ‘‘I won’t be able to go’’. Your plan may be to rent a movie with your family or have some ‘you time’ to recharge and rejuvenate mentally. Mindful and assertive communication is important to sustain healthy relationships. There is no need to get into long explanations. Be mindful of your health and see it as your first priority. When we recognize our limits we can enjoy and be more present over the holiday period.
Managing Expectations: Often we struggle with the want for Christmas to be perfect which only adds to pressure and fixed assumptions. Try to stay in the present moment and let go of the word ‘should’, which only creates a demand and expectations of how things ‘should’ be as opposed to how they are.
Mindful awareness and responding: Although we can’t control what tensions may arise from others, we can choose how we respond. Mindfulness brings us into the present and increases our awareness. Notice feelings of tension when they arise and give yourself the space to choose how best to respond. It is often helpful to take a break and step away from the situation. A walk outdoors can be helpful to give yourself the ‘space’ to regulate your emotions.
It is also worth remembering that those around you might benefit from their own space, both leading up to and on Christmas day. Letting go of the strict agenda that comes with ‘tradition’ and have a more ‘free flowing’ day where family members can opt in or out of activities. Letting go of strict planning won’t mean chaos and with the help of mindfulness we can feel more grounded, regulated and meeting the needs of all family members.
Take care with alcohol. Too much alcohol can reduce your inhibitions and may lead to regrets and a hangover which in turn may lead to people to being susceptible to irritation. Alcohol also influences mood and if you are prone to anxiety and depression be mindful of alcohol intake.
Forgiveness: Practice forgiveness of yourself and others. Take a deep breath, come back to the moment, breathe and make a choice to re-connect by letting go of anger and guilt.
Gratitude: Make a gratitude listof what you feel grateful for to on the day. This can help to re-connect us and feel more positive.
Exercise: A great way of reducing stress is to engage in exercise as it burns off cortisol and adrenaline and helps produce mood-enhancing endorphins. Even if you feel tired, activate before motivate (don’t wait to get motivated, walk out the door and take committed action to healthy exercise. The motivation will follow and exercise will also reduce tiredness related to stress.
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