The most Wonderful time of the year, or the most Stressful time of the year?
Are you the type of person who ends up in a tangle at Christmas?
There are those who appear to be gliding gracefully into the festivities - have been buying alcohol supplies since June, had all their presents wrapped since November, the perfectly decorated tree up since the 1st December and are now sipping away on their Gingerbread Latte with nothing to worry about except the dreaded last food shop.
Then there are the others of us, who forgot to buy their kids advent calendars, have only just put the tree up a week before Christmas, left Joseph's outfit 'til the night before the Nativity play, realised that the 2nd class post deadline has been and gone [and therefore decided not to do Christmas cards anymore this year (*must donate money to charity)] and will still be tearing around the shops doing last minute panic shopping (Sheila loves Bath Bombs, right?) and wrapping presents right up 'til midnight on Christmas Eve.
Not only that, but whilst some people will present the perfect family Christmas to the outside world (we love the matching "Insta" Christmas jumpers), for a lot of us, it's hugely more complicated than that. For those with kids and are separated - the logistics of whether the kids are with Mum or Dad this year, who's buying them what for Christmas, the loneliness that can reside when your kids don't spend Christmas with you and disappear off to your Ex's... Then there's the family integrations (the in-laws), worries about money - as it's also the most expensive time of the year - a diary so full of events that you need to hire a PA to manage it, and the pressure of cooking that perfect Christmas dinner.. and everyone else seems to be managing so well, and you're just completely frazzled, stressed to the max and trying to remember that it is THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR FFS, and so you down an extra glass of Christmas fizz and put your best smile on for Santa.
Here are our few top tips on how to handle the stress and stay calm this Christmas;
Your environment affects your stress levels, blood pressure, risk of certain diseases and overall well-being. Even a short walk around the block will do wonders for your mood. Try and make this a daily occurrence. If you need motivation, grab a dog, the kids or a friend.
Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and well-being so if you can find a "green" space, even better.
Working out is also one of the best ways to beat anxiety; Exercise not only improves health and reduces stress, it also relaxes tense muscles and helps you to sleep. It causes the release of chemicals called endorphins into your bloodstream, making you feel relaxed and happy.
[You could try 1 and 2 at the same time - Studies have found that heading outdoors to exercise is more enjoyable than doing the same activity while cooped up inside, and you'll feel a lift in your mood after just 5 minutes.]
In the middle of a jam-packed shop, people are pushing and shoving, the queue is a mile long and you've got other places you'd rather be.... "Fight or Flight"???
Now is a good time to practice those breathing skills. By shifting your breathing rate and pattern, you can stimulate the body's parasympathetic response. This is the body's equally powerful and opposite system to the Fight or Flight Response and is often called the relaxation response. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. Hold your breath to the count of "three." Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach. Try to make the breath out longer than the breath in (count of "five").
4. Cut Back on the BOOZE
It's all too easy to overindulge during the festive period with mulled wine available in all corners of everywhere, Christmas parties galore, meeting up with friends and family, glass of wine while you're putting the tree up, glass of wine (or three) while you're wrapping presents. Baileys with your coffee at 8am just because it's there. Champagne and salmon breakfast because you're posh like that. Bloody Mary with scrambled eggs on toast to sort you out from the night before..
"alcohol is a capricious character, flipping from faithful sidekick to spiteful psychopath in the space of a few small sips – and its unpredictability is particularly acute at Christmas." The Guardian
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down the brain and the central nervous system's processes. Drinking alcohol may seem to provide some relief - positive feelings and relaxation - in the short term, however, researchers have found that alcohol takes a psychological and physiological toll on the body and may actually compound the effects of stress. Alcohol causes higher amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) to be released altering the brain's chemistry and resetting what the body considers "normal." Alcohol shifts the hormonal balance, changes the way the body perceives stress and how it responds to stress.
As your body processes the alcohol you’ve drunk, the sedative effects wear off. You can begin to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms similar to feelings people who are dependent on alcohol may have.
These symptoms can be psychological such as feeling depressed or anxious. Many people feel like this the morning after drinking alcohol. This is because they are withdrawing from the effects of alcohol.
5. Go GREEN
When we are feeling tired, stressed and frazzled the immune system can take a bit of a battering. It's therefore important to sustain (or even increase) your uptake of vitamins and minerals.
"The leafy greens are probably the richest in nutrients of any foods in the vegetable kingdom". Dr. Elson Haas
Dark leafy greens like spinach are rich in folate, which helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine.
They are also a good source of Vitamin B. Low energy and fatigue can contribute to irritability and stress levels. This is why the B vitamins, which are well-known for keeping energy levels high and improving cognitive performance, can have a positive effect.
If you are struggling to get your greens in your diet - don't forget there are supplements at hand to help you.
Lean Greens is our favourite green powder on the market and not only is it full of all the right vitamins and minerals to get you through the festive season, it's also fantastic at reducing bloating and we may or may not have used it on several occasions as the world's best hangover cure.
If you fancy checking the Lean Greens out please click on the link below;
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For a discounted subscription
It's an 'ELF drink you know...