De-stress

25 Ways To Stress Less This Christmas

    • Plan ahead “Make a to-do list so that Christmas day doesn’t creep up on you,” recommends Neil Shah of The Stress Management Society (stress.org.uk). “Jot down important dates such as the last post to ensure your cards and presents arrive on time!”

    • Breathe fresh air Head out for a walk in a green space or change your route to work – research has shown this helps to boost your endorphin levels. December is a great time to venture out as the Christmas decorations and lights will be lining the streets!

    • Get the essential nutrients “Whip up a fresh fruit smoothie with chlorella or spirulina powder, as these give a great natural dose of nutrients which help us cope better, especially if you’re prone to becoming run down during a stressful period,” advises nutritionist Shona Wilkinson (superfooduk.com).

    • Learn to say no Taking on too much and filling up your diary will only stress you out – remember you don’t have to attend every festive event, so give yourself permission to say no to some invitations. That way, you’ll enjoy the parties and celebrations you do go to more.

    • Use digitals “We live in an era where we don’t have to brace the crowds to do our shopping,” says GP Dr Rupert Critchley. “Order online and save yourself a lot of stress! Just remember to give yourself time in case there are delivery delays or you need to exchange items.”

    • Go back to basics “Ensure that you have high levels of the feel good hormone serotonin,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville (marilynglenville.com). “Your body makes this from tryptophan, which occurs in foods such as fish, bananas and almonds – combine these with unrefined carbs, including brown rice or oats.”

    • Try mindfulness “Download a mindfulness app on your phone so you can use it at home or on the go,” Dr Rupert advises. “Mindfulness has a positive impact on the strains of everyday life which reduces stress hormones such as cortisol.”

    • Keep your sleep in check “There are many days of planning and purchasing, so it’s easy to get worn out before the big day arrives,” says Shona. “Instead of staying up, start in good time and plan your day better. This also gives your body and mind a chance to de-stress and recuperate.”

    • Stay active “Just 30 minutes of brisk exercise a day reduces blood pressure and releases endorphins,” says Dr Rupert. “A stroll in the park will provide oxygen replenishment as well, which is beneficial for your body, mind and energy levels.”

    • Remember to delegate Everything isn’t up to you! “Get the kids involved – they can decorate the house and wrap presents,” Neil advises. “Many shops and online vendors also offer wrapping services so you get a little extra help from them, taking more weight off your shoulders.”

    • Watch your drink “Many of us are prone to a few too many during the Christmas season, especially when stressed,” says Dr Rupert. “Try to switch to a soft drink between alcohol and pace yourself. Alcohol acts as a depressant, causing fatigue and making anxiety harder to navigate.”

    • Watch your drink “Many of us are prone to a few too many during the Christmas season, especially when stressed,” says Dr Rupert. “Try to switch to a soft drink between alcohol and pace yourself. Alcohol acts as a depressant, causing fatigue and making anxiety harder to navigate.”

    • Don’t forget to laugh “This is one of the best remedies for stress,” explains Dr Marilyn. “Many studies show that it boosts our energy, improves immunity and diminishes pain. Having a giggle triggers the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that make us happier and relaxed.”

    • Ask for help You don’t need to be by yourself in the kitchen. “Cooking alone can leave you frazzled,” says Neil. “You never know, getting the family involved can make everyone feel helpful and give them a sense of belonging where it can actually change a stressful experience into something fun.”

    • Take a bath If it’s all getting too much, make some time for yourself and run a bath. Relaxing in warm water has been proven to increase serotonin and balance your cortisol levels – add some soothing bath salts with essential oils and light some candles to gain even more benefits!

    • Forget perfection “Have a realistic expectation of how Christmas should be,” advises Neil. “Create buffer times where you do things slowly and peacefully, such as decorating the tree, and remember – making a memorable day is much more important than everything being perfect, so don’t fret over the little things that go wrong, just enjoy!”

    • Listen to your gut “The health of our gut bacteria plays a central role in our ability to manage stress and anxiety,” says Isabelle. “This is why it’s important to eat fermented foods that support bacterial growth, such as kimchi – these items also aid digestion and produce B vitamins.”

    • Do a breathing exercise “Sit comfortably with a straight back,” says massage expert Beata Aleksandrowicz (beata. website). “Inhale through your nose for three seconds, exhale through your mouth for four seconds, then pause for three seconds. Repeat this for five to 10 minutes to calm your mind.”

    • Live in the moment “We’re all guilty of comparing our lives to others,” Dr Rupert tells us. “The popularity of Instagram has caused many to feel stressed that their lives are not perfect. My advice is to heavily reduce usage of these apps, be present and appreciate the small things over the festive season.”

    • Buy small “Gift-buying is one of the most stressful aspects of Christmas,” says Neil. “It isn’t always easy to find interesting ideas to keep things different every year. Several creative stocking fillers over one big gift will give you a better chance of giving a present they’ll like.”

    • Seek expert advice “If your stress levels become too overwhelming and you feel you can’t cope, make an appointment to see your local GP,” advises Dr Rupert. “They will help you deal with any underlying emotional issues and will offer guidance to see you through the festive period and beyond.”

    • Keep an eye on your purse It’s really easy at this time of year to lose control of your spending, what with parties and gift-buying. Creating a budget will help you stay on top of things – you could also make your own presents or decorations to be more thrifty, too.

    • Look after your body “It may be the season to be jolly, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be tempted to indulge in caffeine and refined sugar, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed,” explains Neil. “Instead, keep yourself and your guests well hydrated by drinking water or herbal teas.”

    • Up your intake “Vitamin C is vital for the production of adrenal hormones which support our management of stress,” says Isabelle. “You can obtain it naturally through foods such as berries, kale, broccoli, red cabbage, watercress and peppers, which are also packed with antioxidants.”

  • Enjoy the day “Ensuring that you and your loved ones have fun on the big day is the most important thing,” states Neil. “Try not to spend the build up beforehand worrying, fretting and stressing – remember to keep calm.”

Health & Wellbeing