I have over the last 12 days been following along the Black Dog Institute‘s 12 days of Christmas. They have been sharing tips on how to make the holiday period less stressful. I thought that I would simply collate all 12 into one place and share them with you.
Day One: Work out priorities, keep a list
Prioritise tasks in order of importance and tick them off when they are done. Make the tasks realistic- don’t burden yourself with impracticable goals which will only stress you out.
The festive season is a great time to make the important people in your life your top priorities and attend to these relationships.
We often agree to situations to meet other people’s expectations. There is no better example of this than the holiday season, when we try to squeeze everything into our diaries.
Practise saying “no” to requests that are unreasonable or more than you can handle at the time- rather than suffer subsequent regrets and stress.
Take time out for yourself and focus on breathing deeply.
Pay attention to each breath in and out as they follow rhythmically one after the other. This will ground you in the present and help you to move into a state of awareness and relaxation.
Make a list of events which leave you emotionally drained. Once you have identified your stressors, connect each event with one or two ways to reduce the stress.
When these situations then arise, use them as an opportunity to practise stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing and note what works for next time.
Don’t let people rush you.
Frenzied activities lead to errors, regrets and stress. If you feel like you are being rushed, request time to orient yourself to the situation before proceeding. Where possible, plan ahead and arrive at appointments early, composed and having made allowances for unexpected hold-ups.
Allow time for yourself. Gentle repetitive exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling are great to relieve stress brought on by the inevitable end of year rush.
Or perhaps you would prefer some meditation, yoga, Pilates and dance? The trick is to find what suits you best. Hobbies that demand your attention are also valuable as they can provide a much needed sense of individual achievement and satisfaction.
Smile whenever possible, you will be amazed at the difference this can make to how you feel.
If a difficult situation arises, try to walk away with a positive thought, this will help you deal with stressful times in the future.
Image by Matthew Johnstone
It’s easy to get caught up in the festive spirit and sometimes a drink or two can feel like the solution, but this is only temporary.
Drinking can create more problems in terms of physical and mental health.
Consider moderating your alcohol intake or switching to a healthier alcohol-free alternative like coconut water.
Performing five kind acts a week creates a measurable boost to levels of psychological well-being. Giving not only makes you feel good about yourself, it enhances your connection with others and can bring you positive feedback from others.
For some of us Christmas can be an overwhelming and occasionally isolating time, but we don’t have to do it alone.
If times get tough pick up the phone and talk to someone you trust. Or if you need help, don’t be afraid to contact one of our friends:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Try this one minute exercise: Sit in front of a clock or watch that you can use to time the passing of one minute. Your task is to focus your entire attention on your breathing and nothing else, for the minute.
Have a go- try it now.
It is important to not get caught up in all the festive planning and forget to enjoy yourself. Join in the festivities, be a bit silly and have fun!
Tis’ the season after all.