Christmas is supposed to be a very happy time of the year but it can also be the most stressful. As everyone tries to get everything done before the holiday shut down the stress levels rise. Stress relief is important for everyone over Christmas. Our usual. supports sometimes aren’t available during the holidays, our routines get interrupted and this year our usual get togethers may have to look quite different
So let’s talk about tricks and tips to manage your stress everyday during this so that we avoid accumulated stress.
Tip 1 Limit multi-tasking
I know, I know it feels amazing to get all the things done. A few months ago I was cooking dinner with one hand, playing with my six year old, texting a client (with the other hand). When my partner came in and grumbled about the washing not being hung out I LOST MY SH*T. When we multi-task we raise our expectations of ourselves, we become more tense in our bodies and our fight or flight system kicks in. We can run like this all day, trouble is it depletes our energy and our ability to cope.
Do one thing at a time, if you can’t get it all done, look at your expectations and re-prioritise. Approaching your day in a calm, mindful present way is essential for managing stress. This can take a lot practice. Every evening I write a list of things for the next day, if it goes on the list I make sure I do it, so I am very mindful about what goes on my list. Is it really important? Does it fill me up or deplete me? Does it have to done on that day? The less items on my list the better and the more the items on my list are connected to my values and long term goals the better.
Tip 2 Get a movement routine for the holidays
The evidence is all there, exercise and movement is a fantastic antidote to stress. This can be tricky during the holidays as your routines are interrupted, but there are opportunities. If you are home with younger kids make some time for physical play, tip in the back yard or lounge room dance parties . A morning or afternoon walk is a great routine you can create for the holidays, either on your own or with older kids.
Choose a time of day to do a pre-recorded Pilates class with me! 2020 has inspired me to teach online and this year I have created a number of pre-recorded holiday classes. Sign up below to get them FOR FREE in your email this holidays!
Tip 3 Practice mindfulness
So, mindfulness is all the rage right now. What does it mean? Being fully mindful with the moment and experience you are having right now. There are lots of different ways to do this, such as:
- Focus on your breath coming into your body and going out
- Take a moment to note 3 things you hear, 3 things you see, 3 things you feel
- Think of one thing that you are grateful for right now and focus on the sensation of being grateful
- Give your full attention to the task in front of you (Yes this links to Tip 1 and it is a wonderful practice)
Mindfulness helps us to breathe more fully and reduce the stress hormones that trigger the fight or flight system in the body. As a daily practice mindfulness can increase the calm you feel.
Tip 4 Expect less
This is a hard one as our expectations of ourselves tend to get a little out of control at this time of year. It’s worth checking what pressure we are putting on ourselves and why. If something is feeling stressful see if you can lower your expectations of yourself a little, instead of cooking the whole Christmas meal ask guests to bring something to complement the main dish. Lower the bar, as much as you need to.
Tip 5 Practice self compassion
I have spoken of the compassionate hands meditation before because it is one of my favourite. The idea is you take a quiet moment and feel all the love you have for others in your life and notice the way you show that love with your hands. Then put your hands on yourself (usually your belly or heart and imagine the love you pour out to others coming back to you. Hold yourself with the loving compassion that you can hold others with. This might take some practice but it is a wonderful way to learn to be more compassionate towards ourselves.
I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.