For many of us, the lead up to Christmas is a highly stressful time with increased anxiety and pressure. Time seems to speed up and we feel more urgency to get stuff done before the holiday period, so we can start the new year afresh. While it might feel like this is beyond your control (like being on a high-speed train that you can’t get off) the lead up to Christmas doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Below are some useful strategies that can help you de-stress, stay centered, and connected to what’s important.
Change Your Perception
How we think about Christmas time and the language we use will determine how stressed we feel. If your internal monologue sounds something like “Oh my god, there’s so much to do”. I’ll never get it done in time”, your brain will react to those words by releasing Adrenalin into the body to kick off the fight/flight system, thereby creating that panic feeling. Instead, use calming and realistic statements, such as “Everything will get done eventually”. “Christmas is only one day”. “If I don’t finish it all it’s not the end of the world.” These will activate the rest and digest part of the nervous system (otherwise known as the Parasympathetic Nervous System) so you can remain calm and clear headed. You might find that you get more done by taking this approach.
Instead of rushing around like a headless chook trying to do everything at once, try picking your top three priorities to focus on each day and each week. The key to this is to imagine that the day is over and ask yourself “at the end of the day, what three things will I want to have accomplished”? These three things than become the focus of you day. Repeat the same process for the week ahead. This is a great way to reduce overwhelm so that you focus on what’s important.
Focus on the Now
Have you noticed that most of your anxiety and stress is due to mulling over all the things you need to get done before Christmas, just so you can relax over Christmas? Seems a bit counter intuitive doesn’t it. But that’s anxiety for you. The more we think about something that hasn’t happened yet the more disconnected we are with the present moment. When you notice yourself thinking about future oriented tasks, stop, pause, take three big deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, look around and notice what you can see, feel and hear. Ask yourself “What am I focusing on right now?”. Spend a few minutes each day doing this so that you feel more centered whilst focusing on your priorities.
Fav Place Visualization
This is a great exercise to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed because it is an instant de-stressor that can be done anywhere (just not while driving!). In your mind take yourself to a place (real or imagined) that makes you feel calm, serene, and at ease. Really imagine yourself in that space soaking up all the sights and feelings that place conjures up in you.
Ask for Help
This might seem obvious, but many of my coaching and psychology clients forget to do this when they need it most. If you’ve got too much to do than outsource where you can. For example, order groceries online, ask a friend, family member, or babysitter to mind the kids while you go Christmas shopping, ask everyone to bring a plate of food, rather than having to cook it all. Create ways in which you can delegate to free up some time and space for yourself.
Talk To Someone
This really is one of the best ways to de-stress and when done with the right person I believe a problem shared really is a problem halved. Lighten the emotional load by kicking back and having a good old laugh, cry, or both. Either way, it’ll reduce cortisol levels and help you feel calmer and more focused.
Move Your Body
If you find yourself not being able to sleep, feeling keyed up, and on edge than moving your body is a great way to release that excess Adrenalin. Try doing some squats up against a wall or tensing and releasing your biceps and forearms multiple times. You might be surprised by how clear headed you feel afterwards.
Let me know how you go. I’d love to hear from you 😊