Christmas is always a mixed bag. Most people are never quite sure what Christmas will bring. It brings excitement and joy, traditions, sugar filled coffees, lights, festivities, friends, family, gifts, and parties as well as too much food, alcohol and just too much of everything that comes with the season. The mere thought of Christmas can quickly elevate our stress levels. The holidays are filled with extra activities which we feel bound to take part in, not only so we don’t let other people down but so we don’t let ourselves down and we can say we had a ‘fun-filled’ Christmas.
By the time the Christmas break comes, most people are already tired, stressed, juggling overloaded schedules and finding little time for themselves. Add the holiday extras and there seems no space to breathe.
Here are some small steps to help minimise stress and fatigue.
1. Go easy on yourself
Part of the stress and fatigue at Christmas comes from high expectations. There are people to see, places to go, gifts to buy and parties to attend. It can’t all be done, without bringing on undue stress and fatigue. Accept that your body will get stressed, quite likely in every way possible, and choose the priorities for you this Christmas. Do you need to go to every Christmas party? Do you need to catch up with every friend, some of whom you haven’t seen all year. Do you really need to spend all that money on gifts?
Accept what you can and cannot do and be happy with that.
Even with all the fun and festivities it can be hard to be grateful at Christmas. We feel overwhelmed with all the people we have to spend time with who we ordinarily wouldn’t and all the gifts we feel we have to buy. Set all these issues aside and try to be grateful for the present moment. Give thanks for the job and family you do have, the parties you do go to, the gifts you get to give to people, however large or small, expensive or otherwise.
3. The reason for the season
Whatever your religious belief or faith position, Christmas is mostly seen as a time for giving. So whether it be with your time, money, skills, a listening ear or a helping hand, give back to someone this Christmas and experience the joy of human connection – something we so often overlook in this season.
4. Cultivate awareness and self-care
Pay attention and become aware of your thoughts and feelings. You are then in a better place to make active, instead of reactive, decisions. If your usual response to feeling overwhelmed and tired is to spiral into feeling more stressed out and upset, try a new tactic. By stepping outside of your emotions and looking at them objectively, decide whether you just need a few moments in some fresh air, a glass of water, cup of tea, a quick chat with a friend or possibly leaving a party early to get some rest. Use these times of stress to become more aware of how you feel and how you react so that you can give greater care to yourself.
5. Hydrate and detox
Make sure that everyday you are drinking plenty of water and detoxing with a cup of hot water and fresh lemon. It may only seem small but these little habits every day can help with digestion, cleansing your system, clearing your skin, energising and enhancing your mood, boosting your immune system and balancing pH levels.
6. Get up and move
Even if you’re not much of an exerciser keeping some steady, easy exercise in your routine over Christmas can help. Go for a long walk, do a short circuit of skipping, squats and push-ups, play with the kids, dust off the running shoes and go for a jog. All these can help ease stress by being out in the fresh air, getting the blood pumping round your body, stimulating various brain chemicals which make you feel more relaxed and happier and boosting your energy.
7. Get to bed on time
I know there’s the huge temptation of invitations all over the place, but try to get to bed at an earlier hour, at least twice a week over the Christmas period. In the long run it’ll be better for you, you won’t get run down, stressed out and you’ll be more alert with people and get more done.
8. Don’t fill up everyday
This can be applied to a lot of areas. Don’t over eat and drink everyday. It will quite likely happen at some point but try to give your body a rest from rich foods at regular intervals. Don’t fill everyday up with gatherings, errands and activities. Make sure you have at least 20-30 minutes a day for yourself. This will help keep your emotions in check and your energy levels balanced. Don’t fill up everyday with thoughts of your to-do list. Instead try to spend some time reflecting on what this time of year means to you, what happened this year and what you’d love to see, do or be in the upcoming year.