10 ways to manage stress during the festive season

The festive season is here, and while some manage to stay as merry as Cindy Lou Who, for many others, well, Christmas can become really stressful. There are thoughtful gifts to be purchased, elaborate tables to be set, and loud extended family members to deal with.

Stress is a natural part of life but too much can lead to a burnout. We’ve put together some helpful tips to help you maintain a healthy mental and physical state this festive season – yes, even when Aunt Kath gets on the wine and starts singing her off-key ‘jingle bells’.

1.Take a break

It’s important to have a breather when you feel your stress levels elevating. Winding your way through throngs of Christmas shoppers, planning the cooking and entertainment and keeping your cat and kids from mauling the tree can spike your stress levels. Go to a quiet place, have some me time and jot down your to-do-list over a nice cool drink.

2. Exercise

Exercising releases those happy endorphins and improves your mental health as well as keeps you moving during the time of year that we typically over-indulge. Feeling claustrophobic with so many people around? Go for a jog or a brisk walk to pump those muscles and clear your mind.

3. Be practical

Identify external and internal stressors and try to avoid these. If just thinking of the Christmas lunch is making you frazzled, try to look for simpler alternatives such as a BBQ or begin your meal preparation a few days beforehand. If your budget doesn’t allow for something, go without it. Christmas will still be special without the extravagant décor and you’ll avoid any post-festivity stress and regrets.  

4. Manage your expectations

By mid-October, you would have started planning the perfect holiday, but as the date draws nearer and the reality looks nothing like the vision, you might start to experience some anxiety. Don’t let the holiday blues get you down. Be realistic and try to adopt the attitude that these small setbacks such as the overdone roast or the lopsided tree are an opportunity to practice adaptability and resilience and you’ll probably laugh about it in years to come.

5. Live in the moment

In the whirlwind and flurry of Christmas prep you can forget to pause and appreciate the small things. The way the tree lights twinkles, the beauty of cold lemonade on a hot day, and the magic of excited children.

Pause and do this exercise right now to help clear your mind. Watch the clock or the timer on your phone and focus your entire energy and attention on your breathing for one whole minute.

6. Know when to say no

If you know that big gatherings will leave you and your family stressed this Christmas, learn to say no. During the festive season, many people try to accommodate and please everybody but if you feel that you can’t, saying no is not the end of the world. It is better to decline unreasonable or anxiety-riddled situations rather than suffer regret, anger, and stress afterwards.

7. Take your time

Practice approaching situations mindfully. Give yourself enough time to get ready for events, plan to show up at appointments early and composed, and don’t allow people to rush you.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Even the perfect host needs help sometimes. Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to slice lemons or keep an eye on the roast while you have a quick breather. Ask a relative to answer the door and get the older kids to offer juice to visitors. Guests will be happy to take on a small task and you’ll save yourself some energy to enjoy the party yourself.

9. Have fun

Laughter really is the best medicine. Don’t forget to have fun whenever and wherever you can, whether it’s setting up the tree, baking gingerbread, or picking gifts. Try to forget your long list of things to do and find the holiday humour in the most tedious things and you’ll easily avoid the Christmas stress. Studies show that laughter lightens your mood and mental health, boosts circulation, relaxes muscles and stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles. Go on, have a good, long guffaw and feel the stress seep out of your body.

10. Try not to sweat the small stuff

Not sweating the small stuff and adopting positive and healthy ways to deal with tense situations can help you avoid developing stress-related illnesses down the road such as high blood pressure, depression, and obesity. It can get pretty hectic around this time of year however, try to remember that the holidays are about connecting with loved ones and spending quality time with those that matter. Health Deal wishes you a very merry and stress-free Christmas!

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