Tis the season. For the shops to be packed, work to get manic and you to have a zillion people to cook for.
It’s also the time of year when couples often have to balance two families. If like Meghan Markle you’re spending the holiday season with the in-laws, you may have some anxiety building.
While you may not be opening your stocking in Sandringham, Christmas can be stressful as well as the most wonderful time of the year.
So, keep your cool and carry on with these tips from the pros.
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Meltdown over a present you forgot to buy? Huff and puff it away. “In moments of stress, the brain produces the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, giving us a burst of nervous energy,” explains hypnotherapist Chloe Brotheridge.
“Get your body into ‘rest and digest’ mode by breathing in for a count of three, then out for five. As you breathe in, allow your belly to expand like a balloon and as you exhale, let the balloon deflate.”
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, jot down things you’re grateful for – it could help you feel happier and less stressed. “A University of Southern California study found that being really specific is more effective than making a general list,” says Chloe.
“So, instead of writing that you appreciate your other half, give examples of why – he makes a big fuss on your birthday, and so on.”
Ramp up those Christmas tunes and exercise. “Aim to do at least three sessions a week,” recommends Jamie. “Working out helps your immune system and boosts endorphins, helping you sleep better and easing stress.”
Perfect excuse for a second (or fifth) Quality Street, too.
Sure, they taste good but certain food and drinks don’t do wonders for your stress levels. “Hot peppers, alcohol and coffee over-stimulate the nervous system, which causes an imbalance in the liver,” warns Jamie.
“This then disrupts sleep and increases your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”
The plus points of meditation range from lower stress and anxiety to an optimism boost. “Join a local class or try a book on mindfulness meditation – a good example is Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world,” says Chloe.
“I also like the Headspace app.” And check out these tips to train your mind for success.
Ideally by 10.30pm. “In Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s believed that 10:30 is the best time for a full cycle of sleep,” says Jamie. “That’s because, at 11, the Qi (energy) in the liver regenerates itself and, in Chinese medical theory, the liver controls a lot of our emotions.
Plus our body goes into a state of repair between 10:30 and 2:30am and, if we’re awake too late, we put stress on ourselves as we start to release cortisol.” What better reason to have a snooze during Love Actually? It’s not like you haven’t watched it twice today already.