Tis the season to get overwhelmed
'Tis the season. For the shops to be packed, work to get manic and you to have a zillion people to cook for.
It's also the time of year when couples often have to balance two families. And if you're spending the holiday season with the in-laws, you may have some anxiety brewing. Because lets face it - Christmas can be stressful as well as the most wonderful time of the year.
So, if you're feeling stressed this festive season, keep your cool and carry on with these tips from the pros.
How to beat stress: 10 simple steps
1/ Try 3-5 breathing
Meltdown over a present you forgot to buy? Huff and puff it away. 'In moments of stress, the brain produces the 'fight-or-flight' response, giving us a burst of nervous energy,' explains hypnotherapist Chloe Brotheridge. 'Get your body into 'rest and digest' mode by breathing in for a count of three, then out for five. As you breathe in, allow your belly to expand like a balloon and as you exhale, let the balloon deflate.'
2/ Put the kettle on
It might sound like the most British thing ever, but a nice cuppa really can help to de-stress. Take a time out from the gingerbread lattes and try chamomile tea. 'This herb calms frayed nerves and is actually an extremely mild sedative,' says health and fitness coach Jamie Lloyd. 'In a small study of patients with anxiety disorders, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School reported that chamomile extracts contributed to significant improvements.'
3/ Eat, sleep, plan, repeat
Get organised – easier said than done, but worth taking time over. Whether it’s forgetting your phone or having to run for the train, leaving the house in a breathless rush sets you up for stress. Kids are taught to get bags, homework and uniforms ready before bed, so do the same and prep the night before.
4/ Get your trainers
Ramp up those Christmas tunes and exercise. Aim to do at least three sessions a week. Working out helps your immune system and boosts endorphins, helping you sleep better and easing stress.
5/ Be diet smart
Sure, they taste good but certain food and drinks don’t do wonders for your stress levels. Hot peppers, alcohol and coffee over-stimulate the nervous system, which causes an imbalance in the liver. This then disrupts sleep and increases your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
6/ Shake it off
Yes, just like Taylor. This is all about owning your feelings. Although it may appear that it's your mother-in-law who is driving you mad, you're the one who decides how you respond to the things around you. Make a commitment to yourself to 'let things go' and realise that there are some things you can't control. By reacting negatively you'll only end up spoiling your own Christmas.
7/ Tweak your bath…
With magnesium. It’s a super mineral with numerous benefits, including helping to alleviate aches and pains. Plus, if you rub magnesium oil on your legs and arms before bed, you’ll have the best night’s sleep ever.
8/ Meditate, meditate, meditate
The plus points of meditation range from lower stress and anxiety to an optimism boost. 'Join a local class or try a book on mindfulness meditation. I also like the Headspace app.
9/ Be thankful
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, jot down things you’re grateful for – it could help you feel happier and less stressed. A University of Southern California study found that being really specific is more effective than making a general list. So, instead of writing that you appreciate your other half, give examples of why – he makes a big fuss on your birthday, and so on.
10/ Go to sleep
Ideally by 10.30pm. 'In Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s believed that 10:30 is the best time for a full cycle of sleep. 'That’s because, at 11, the Qi (energy) in the liver regenerates itself and, in Chinese medical theory, the liver controls a lot of our emotions. Plus our body goes into a state of repair between 10:30pm and 2:30am and, if we’re awake too late, we put stress on ourselves as we start to release cortisol. What better reason to have a snooze during Love Actually? It's not like you haven't watched it twice today already.