In small doses, it is a powerful force that helps us overcome challenges, excites us into action and helps us stay focused. Having a balanced lifestyle is the best strategy for managing stress but it is now during Christmas that retaining this sense of balance can be most challenging.
Managing Stress Levels
When it comes to Christmas time, the planning, shopping and socialising can send stress levels way out of control. Our reactions get in the way of clear thinking, we fail to accurately ‘read’ other people, decision making falls to the wayside and we ignore our personal needs. Living is not about avoiding stress but knowing how to manage your stress when you recognise it.
Am I Stressed?
Managing stress levels is the key to having a good Christmas. If the turkey gets burned, the dogs eat the cushions and discussions get heated, being able to manage your stress will help you stay balanced and, no matter what, come through the challenges.
Know what stress ‘feels’ like for you and recognise some of the early signs:
- Aches, pains
- Tense muscles
- Exacerbation of sensory symptoms (‘pins and needles’)
- Troubled sleep/fatigue
- Upset stomach (diarrhoea/constipation)
- Hard to think clearly
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritable/short tempered
- Difficulty making a decision
- Minor accidents (dropping items, trips, off-balance)
- Increased smoking/drinking
- Unexplainable grumpiness
- Being ‘short’ with others.
Managing and Responding
How we manage and respond to stress is the key to achieving the positive outcomes to relieving the symptoms of being over-stressed.
If you shut down, withdraw and disconnect from people when you feel stressed, try doing something that stimulates and energises you. Go for a walk, play with the children, play a game.
If you get angry, loose the head with people and ‘see red’, you will respond best to something that soothes and calms you. Go for a walk, do some yoga stretching, relax in a quiet room for 30 minutes, listen to relaxing music
Identify What Works For You
We all have different needs and different methods that work for us. Building a ‘tool-kit’ of methods that help ease our stress ensures we choose suitable techniques at different times and situations.
The more you allow stress to build up, the more difficult it can be to re-balance. Strategies to prevent this involved stimulating your senses to invigorate and soothe you. Techniques for stress relief will have immediate results and be something we can do straight away. Exercise, plenty of rest and relaxation are the overall ‘goodies’ to remember.
DIY Stress-Busters/ Quick Tips for Christmas Calm!
Move: Dance around, wiggle your toes/hands; do some yoga stretches, stamp your feet, go for a walk.
Mindfulness/Meditation: Stay ‘present’ and focus on your breathing; use meditation techniques, be contemplative and just ‘be’ in the moment..
Taste: Sip a nice warm cup of tea; savour a nice piece of fruit and relish eating a piece of your favourite Christmas treat.
Smell: Light a scented candle; make a mulled drink using delicious spices, fresh oranges and cloves/cinnamon; enjoy the smell of a ‘real’ Christmas tree,
Hearing: Listen to your favourite music, sing Christmas songs, enjoy the sounds of nature when out for your post-dinner walk
Touch: Pet the dog/cat, wrap up cosy and warm in a soft blanket, wear your favourite soft winter jumper, enjoy the hugs from friends and family.
Sight: Snuggle up to a flaming fire, hang holly/ivy wreaths on your door, buy a Poinsettia, watch an uplifting Christmas film, cosy up with a new book.
At this time of year, if you are fortunate enough to share it with family and friends, take time to be thankful and enjoy what is good about your life. Focus on what you can accomplish over the holidays and make the most of your time. Do things you enjoy with people you like and no matter what the Christmas challenges are, you’ll be set for calm start to the New Year 2019.