The classic carol Twelve Days of Christmas inspired me to share a collection of de-stress tips to help you combat stress during the run up to Christmas.
Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year and we can get caught out burning the candle at both ends trying to cope with work, family celebrations and a busy social calendar. It is no wonder that by the time the big day arrives many of us are too tired to notice what the turkey tastes like or show enthusiasm for the gifts that grandma sent.
But what if things could be different this year?
Imagine waking up on Christmas morning with the same energy and excitement that you had as a child...
I believe that this is something we can all experience, if we consciously make an effort to connect with a sense of inner peace amidst the surrounding chaos.
As we approach Christmas things can seem so hectic that it is hard to imagine being peaceful. Yet if you look or listen carefully you will notice the frequent mention of the word peace in greetings cards, Christmas carols and even in discussions on TV.
Peace is something we can so easily forget to access when we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but it is at the core of every one of us and is something we can connect with at any time, in any place to help us enjoy all the parties, celebrations and festivities.
12 Top Tips to De-Stress This Christmas
1. Organise Your Wardrobe - Plan ahead so that you have a few outfits that you know you look good and feel great in, rather than stressing at the last minute to scramble together something five minutes before your taxi is due to arrive. Once you have worn one of your outfits drop it into the cleaners the next day on your way to work, so that it is ready to go again as soon as you next need it.
2. Prioritise Projects and Parties - It is impossible to go to every party, write every report and be at every event without burning out. Identify everything that is a 'must do' or 'must attend' and draw a line under or gracefully decline the rest.
3. Power Nap Before Parties - If you know you are going to be out late after work try and grab a 20-30 minute snooze either after lunch or before you glam up to party early evening. This will help you keep going longer. If you find it hard to switch off to snooze try downloading a guided meditation app on your phone.
4. Alternate the Alcohol - It is easy to over-indulge when champagne, wine and cocktails are free flowing. Try and alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water to help lessen the effects of having a hangover the next day.
5. Know When to Leave - Head home before becoming a hanger-on at social events. Instead of being one of the last to leave, start say your goodbyes while the party is still swinging. This means you end the night on an energetic high and the next day your body will thank you for the extra sleep you gained.
6. Practice Self-Care - Give yourself a self-care gift each day. Small or large, do something that will nourish your body, mind or soul; something that is good for you and makes you feel good. Be present in the experience of the time you spend in self-care and notice how it fills you with a sense of peace that enables you to connect more calmly with others.
7. Express Acts of Kindness - Do something kind each day for another person. This can be as simple as smiling at a stranger, letting someone jump ahead of you in the Christmas shopping queue or complementing someone on something you appreciate about them.
8. Breathe with Mindfulness - The simplest way to access the peace within you is to turn your focus to your breath and observe the innate internal presence of expansion, tranquility and calm. Allow yourself to let go of any stress, worries or fears preoccupying your mind and release any tension being held in your body. Set an alarm to remind you every hour on the hour to take 3 deep breaths regularly throughout the day to combat Christmas stress!
9. Get Outside - Even though December is usually one of the bleakest months of the year, make an effort to leave your desk at lunch and spend some time in outdoors. Being outside during the day helps combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), calms the stress response triggered by our nervous system and is great for reducing busy-thinking. If you really can't face the drizzle, then bring nature indoors to you with some festive flowers or a poinsettia plant. Take a few moments out to appreciate the beauty of nature.
10. Let Go Of Perfectionism - Give yourself permission to lower the bar on your perfectionism to reduce overall stress this Christmas. Say "no" to dizzying demands, cut corners where you would usually go the extra mile and ask for help whenever you can. Have a reality check on how much the things you are putting extra effort into really matter - e.g. if the decorations on the tree aren't perfectly balanced this year will anyone really notice? If your friends receive e-cards rather than handwritten ones will they really hold it against you? Or, if the family epistle doesn't get sent - will the world end? Go easy and have fun ☺
11. Remember to Refuel - When you are rushing from one thing to the next it is easy to forget to keep your tank topped up properly. Keep a bowl of nuts and raisins on your desk and pop a banana in your bag to help sustain your energy rather than reaching for sugary treats when you start to feel fatigued.
12. Identify What You Really Want - Christmas Day can feel like a bit of an anti-climax if you haven't taken the time to contemplate what would truly make this special day feel magical for you. What things can you do to ensure you experience the most meaningful Christmas that you have had yet?