The Christmas anticipation builds up all year long; no sooner have the crackers been pulled and last of the turkey been eaten, does the lurking thought of ‘next December’ creep into the back of your mind. It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful – especially if all of the organising and running of the day rests on your shoulders.
So, with Christmas just around the corner, Dr Amy Bibby from Qure shares her top tips on how to minimise festive stress and ensure that you manage to relax and take full advantage of the holiday.
This might sound like an easy approach but that doesn’t mean it should be underestimated. What’s at the top of your list? Getting the turkey? The children’s presents? Arranging travel? Whatever it is, make sure that you get that done first and then work from there. Have everything you need to do written down in a list and enjoy the euphoria of crossing each one off as you accomplish it. This will give you a clear idea of what needs doing and the best path to take in order to achieve your goals. Prioritising your to-do list should always be your first port of call before diving headfirst into wrapping paper and mince pies, and it will put you in good stead for avoiding stress right from the outset.
Focused breathing is often recommended in the practice of mindfulness and it’s an effective way to combat stress and anxiety. So, when you’re marching your way through a shopping centre to find that toy your child is desperate for, you should take a moment to stop and focus before it all gets too much. Make sure that you’re breathing in the correct way – deeply and slowly right to the pit of your stomach – and feel those anxious feelings melt away with every exhale.
Cut down on caffeine
I’m not going to try and take your morning coffee away from you, don’t worry! There’s nothing wrong with having that early-morning boost to see you through the day. But having too much will do nothing to reduce your stress or anxiety about the pending festivities. Caffeine can elevate the production of a hormone called cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’, which is the body’s natural response to stress. However, when produced in mass amounts the hormone can cause chronic stress, which in itself can lead to even worse effects. Opting for a de-caffeinated hot drink or, even better, water will help keep your cortisol levels at a minimum and help you avoid going into a stress-related overdrive.
Don’t be afraid to delegate
As the saying goes, sharing is caring. There’s nothing wrong with communicating that you need help, or with lining up the troops to assist with smaller tasks to free up your time. For example, don’t hesitate to involve Christmas lunch guests with peeling the spuds and prepping the veg whilst you sort out the meat and make the stuffing. Don’t have the time to write out the Christmas cards? Get the kids to write them. It might look even more heart felt coming from them and it gives you the chance to wrap the presents whilst they’re distracted. As with all stress, sharing your worries or concerns with people who can help might be the key to lessening the pressures placed upon you. There’s nothing wrong with asking – especially if it gets you out of doing the washing up.
Ultimately, the key to avoiding feeling too stressed over the Christmas period lies in having a clear idea of what needs to be done, taking extra steps to look after yourself and keep healthy, and also relying on others to lend a helping hand when needed.
If you feel as though symptoms of stress are affecting your everyday life and you need help to mange them, visit your local GP or arrange an at-home appointment through the Qure app.
Qure is one of London's newest and most innovative health services. It provides a speedy 24/7 'doctor to your door' service via an app, offering affordable medical attention at the touch of a button. To find out more about Qure and its services, click here.