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5 Tips to Reduce Stress at Christmas


December is a time of celebration, joy and family, yet for many it's also a time of high expectations and stress leaving us feeling overwhelmed.

Below are 5 tips to help you feel calmer and more centred; enabling you to feel more in control and rested during this festive period.

1) Get Outside

Christmas is often a time of over consumption and being more sedentary than usual, but it's really important to keep the body moving. A simple walk decreases tension plus boosts mood. Exercise produces endorphins, a natural painkilling chemical, which is released in the brain helping to improve sleep and decrease stress. The benefit of being outside? Research suggests that natural environments have two major benefits for our emotions. Firstly, being connected to nature can lead to stress reduction and mood improvement. Research found a correlation between exposure to natural stimuli and a reduction in stress and anger, with an overall improvement in well-being and mental health.

2) Keep a Notepad by the Bed

With so much to plan, we can end up drifting off to sleep to then be suddenly woken by things we have forgotten to put on our to-do list. Keeping a note pad and pen by the bed can really help so that we can write these things down before we go to sleep. Once things are written down, our brain can 'switch off', knowing that its all written down to deal with the following day.

3) Practice Gratitude

The simple art of practicing gratitude can take some of the focus away from your mind and soften your heart. Gratitude has often been linked to greater levels of happiness and inner peace. Your day may not have started well, but your day can start over again at any point you choose. Focus on what you're thankful for, look for all the positives, no matter how small or insignificant they may be at first. Simple acts of gratitude have been scientifically proven to lead to positive emotions, improved health and stronger and more meaningful relationships.

4) Breathe

Despite our best efforts to stay calm, things inevitably get on top of us , leaving us feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Certain breathing techniques really help to calm our nervous system and can take our bodies from a 'flight and fight' mode into a more calming 'rest and digest' mode. This in turn helps us to feel more grounded, calmer and able to respond from a place of clarity and wisdom.

Try this simple breathing technique for 2 minutes and then take a moment to notice the effect it has on your body and mind:

Sit tall, relax the shoulders and the jaw.

Allow your abdomen to soften and feel the rise and fall of the abdomen with the breath.

Breath in for 3 seconds

Hold the breath for four seconds

Breath out for five seconds.

Breath this way for 2 minutes before allowing your breath to return back to it's natural pace.

When you feel comfortable with the technique you can extend it to take 5 minutes. This can be done at any point during the day and the more your practice, the more effective the results.

5) Yoga

Yoga needn't be a power flow, more gentle restorative postures can also really work for you. If you're new to yoga, perhaps look for a 15 minute beginners routine on YouTube

We can't totally banish the stress' and strains from our lives but we can consciously manage how we deal and respond. What's also important is where we put our energy and focus. I hope this list gives you the inspiration you need to find some zen this festive season!

How do you manage to stay stress free during the holidays (or any time of year)? Share with us in the comments below!

 

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