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Expert tips: How to stay stress-free this Christmas
December 22nd 2014
Don't let family feuds break out or tensions run high this Christmas - our experts have shared their top tips to help you keep a cool head
As much as we love this time of year and all the joy it brings, there comes a point where goodwill toward men, peace on earth and festive bliss, are replaced with sky-high stress levels, a banging headache, family rows and an atmosphere frostier than the wintry weather outside.
Whether it’s last minute Christmas shopping, diffusing dinner table family tensions or making the final touches to a mammoth Christmas meal, it’s no surprise that the burdens of the festive season can have us all looking forward to January before Christmas Day has even started.
So if it’s relation strains, yuletide prep or the pressure to have a ‘perfect Christmas’ getting you down, hopefully these tips from Get The Gloss Experts Anna Percy-Davis, life coach and Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe can offer a helping hand and see that you get through the festive season in one piece both in body and mind.
DEALING WITH THE FAMILY
Avoid the martyr trap
“It does not ALL have to be your responsibility even if you are hosting Christmas – delegate, share the task and keep lines of communication open. Tell others what you need from them – even if it is just the odd hug!”
Forget about being perfect
“Lower your expectations. Relax and make it good enough – I am sure your family would prefer you relaxed and laughing over a nice dinner rather than tired and angry, sitting at the head of a perfect Christmas dinner."
Hang out with the ‘balcony’ people in your life
“You know who the ‘balcony’ people are in your life – the people who take you up and show you the view (who champion and support you). Spend as much time with them as you can and avoid the ‘basement’ people – the people who take you down to the dark, dank cellar (who fill you with negative energy).”
Have a positive mantra
“Have a mantra to say to yourself as you wake up and as you are drifting off to sleep (and every time you feel overwhelmed, cross or frustrated). It could be something like ‘I am calm, positive and grateful,’ or just ‘Christmas only comes once a year so I am going to make the most of it.’ Starting and ending your day in a positive space really can make a difference.”
Make time for yourself
“Make sure you take that early morning walk or run, find time for a cup of tea or give yourself a moment at the end of the day to flop on the sofa and catch your breath. We all need a moment to ourselves to clear our head (and repeat our mantra to ourselves!).”
Find the humour
“Go on, have a laugh – life feels so much better when you are looking at it from a place of humour. If humour feels too far away, try to notice when things feel OK and at the end of each day spend a moment (once you have said your mantra!), reviewing what went well and drift into sleep from that positive space....”
“Only focus on the issue at hand, don’t use it to launch a full on attack against the other person."
“Walk away if the row is getting too heated – be aware that you and the other person may be tired, stressed or just overwrought, so it is not a good time to have a row."
“Apologise if you feel you were in the wrong or were unkind."
“But above all, if you can avoid conflict at Christmas time it has to be a good thing! So spot the traps, count to ten and go and find someone who takes you to the balcony!”
A MERRY MINDSET
Another great way to escape the stresses of the festive season (if only for a moment) is to practice mindfulness and meditation. Not only will this help you to escape the insanity in the short-term, but also change your outlook to benefit you in the long-term too.
According to Headspace Founder and meditation expert Andy Puddicombe, “This is the process of paying attention and focusing awareness - in short being fully conscious on the here and now. You can learn a practical set of tools and techniques that anyone can use to meditate, promoting physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. The result? More clarity and less stress!”
Sounds like a great plan to us! Here are his top tips on how to make the most of the festive period: (for more information and to download the app go to www.headspace.com),
Embrace the madness
“The truth is, we’re all a little crazy in one-way or another. At no time is this more obvious than at Christmas. It’s easy to become judgmental in these situations and to be critical of others, but meditation reminds us that the condition of the human mind is a complex one, something which we all share. Ironically, remembering that we share this madness helps us find some sanity.”
“If ever there was a good time to let go of our own wishes and desires, to take greater interest and care in those around us, it is over the holiday season. It’s easy to be cynical about the commercialisation of Christmas, but we are only buying into that concept if we feel obliged to do these things. To do so from choice alone is something altogether different.”
Find time to play
“When did the holiday season become so serious? Do you remember when it was a time to get excited about, to celebrate and enjoy? Well, the holiday season really hasn’t changed all that much, it’s only our attitude towards it that has changed. So let down the guard, let go of the old ideas and any sense of seriousness and rediscover that inherent spirit of play.”
It only happens once
'It's like Groundhog Day right? The same thing every year, over and over again? Or is it? Are we missing something, ignoring details, wishing away the precious few days we have to spend with those we love and care about? But how many more Christmas Days can we expect to see in our lifetime? Reflecting thoroughly on this simple question alone can transform our experience of the holidays.”
THE FINAL WORD
According to Anna, “If all else fails, grit your teeth, keep smiling and remember it IS only one day a year and let’s spend the next 364 days getting stronger and more positive for next Christmas!” So if things do get a little too stressful this time around, don't fret, you'll have the rest of the year to recover.
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