According to the American Psychological Association, 44% of women and 31% men report an increase in stress during the holiday season. Around 59% of the participants experienced feelings of nervousness or sadness.
Let’s aim to do this holiday season right, with our guide on how to unwind and disengage from the chatter and bustle of this busy festive season.
With the constant shopping for gifts, incessant diet-busting late-night parties, and the interminable chats with long-lost relations. We can understand how easily one can feel the overbearing expectations and stress at this most wonderful time of the year, however we have some tips to bring back that Christmas joy you felt as a child.
First step towards trying to enjoy the holidays is to not get engulfed with demands and expectations of our family and friends!
Setting aside specific days for not only shopping, connecting with friends, and Christmas work dos, but also for some you time. Time spent solely on yourself, on your mind and on your body, just tuning in to how you are feeling and taking care of your skin and being mindful what energies, you are allowing around you.
Wanting to be present everywhere at the same time, is where we go wrong! It is vital to set boundaries before we are knee-deep in Christmas festivities. The last thing we want is to find ourselves fighting about politics with our in-laws! Without boundaries, everyone loses. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every activity or project! Before committing, consider facets such as limits for travelling or the number of guests or events that you can attend in the same week.
This Christmas let us aim to spend time looking into the eyes of our loved ones rather than staring and aimlessly scrolling through social media! The impeccably curated Instagram and Snapchat stories are fantasies which will leave you comparing your holidays with your co-workers, friends, and complete strangers. Just remember nobody posts about the burnt turkeys, family fights, broken china or the mounting credit debt.
Ellen Braaten, PhD in Harvard Medical School blames the increasing tasks leading to and during the holiday season as a reason for the brain’s prefrontal cortex going into overdrive. Long-term this high over-bearing demand on the brain can decrease memory, deteriorate production of new brain cells, and cause the existing brain cells to die.
There is however a solution to decrease the high demand on the brain, it is simply to delegate tasks! Asking for help is a good move, and something you will not regret. After all, none of us want to feel like the holiday season was a big blur like last year! Disregarding ‘me time’ is another blunder which most of us end up committing. Without taking care of ourselves we will not be able to take care of our friends and families during the holiday season. It is the season to show appreciation to ALL! Taking the time out to nap, go for a short walk, read a book, or watch a funny movie can be an incredible sanctuary of calmness and tranquillity. Practising mindfulness or meditation, even for a few minutes, is something that we all will seldom regret! Meditation is an eminent tool to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Studies have also revealed that colouring within lines establishes one in the present moment (an act of mindfulness). Colouring books can put us in a meditative state and can help reduce anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
The poll by the American Psychological Association in 2015 revealed that 69% of people are stressed due to ‘lack of money’, whilst 51% are stressed about the pressure to give or receive gifts. Planning and budgeting is something that can come handy for such instances!
Planning menus and shopping lists ahead of time will also save you money and prevent last minute scrambling to buy the forgotten ingredients! Planning head what to buy will also stop us from putting a bit too much in that trolley and buying unhealthy foods that can make us feel tired, lethargic, and even more overwhelmed, as we are now stressing about our figures. The holiday season is notorious for adding a few pounds around the waistline! this need not overwhelm us, as it is completely normal. There is nothing wrong with enjoying some treats and during this period, don’t be so hard on yourself, incorporating small workouts each day will fend off that holiday weight and if you’re a festive social bunny and too busy to work out there is always January! Don’t let the guilt keep you from having a good time, if your being healthy and treating your body right your mind will follow.
Remember last year when “Aunt Redacted” made that comment REPEATEDLY about your career choices, and you felt like throwing a Yorkshire pudding at her? Well, we have a little sprout of advice for you restrain yourself from throwing you delicious meals at anyone no matter how persistently annoying they may be. The truth is the family and friends we spend the holidays with this year may not be there next year. So, with some love and a lot of patience we can learn to understand, appreciate, and tolerate each other, even in the busiest, children screaming, dogs barking, drinks spilling, light bulbs burning of times.
So, let’s make this Christmas all about relaxing, unwinding and liking ourselves and each other in the real world, where things are not filtered and touched up before posted. The reality is noisy and busy, but we have control of what we allow to affect us and how we respond to each trigger. My advice is responding with loving care, that includes towards yourself.