Whether you love it or loath it, Christmas is fast approaching, bringing with it the unavoidable wave of social gatherings and obligations. Whether it’s work parties, festive get-togethers with friends, doing the Christmas shopping, or hosting family, it’s undoubtably a hectic time of year for most people. Whilst having the opportunity to connect with loved ones can be great, it’s not uncommon for people to find themselves overdoing it and feeling worse for wear as a result.
Whether you’re trying to conceive, are currently pregnant, or have recently had a baby, this can be a stressful time and a source of overwhelm in-and-of-itself. As such, it’s probably not a great idea to add to these feelings of stress by burning the candle at both ends. It can therefore be helpful to think about some different strategies you could use to help manage feelings of stress and avoid starting the new year feeling totally frazzled. In this article, I discuss five things you can do to help reduce your stress levels and help prevent that feeling of festive burn out.
Take time for yourself
It sounds obvious, but taking some time out each day, just for you, is a really good way of managing stress, especially if you’re very busy with social commitments. It doesn’t have to be for long; even if you prioritise just 15-20 minutes a day, it can still be helpful. Consider what you’d like to do in that time to help you relax. Would you benefit from going for a walk, reading a chapter of a book, taking a bath, or doing a quick meditation? Have a think about what activities you find truly relaxing and try your best to schedule them into your days, even if it may seem counter-productive at first.
Setting boundaries can be really hard, especially if you like to keep everyone happy. However, your wellbeing is more important than showing face at the work Christmas party! If you’ve received more invites than you can keep track of, it might be worth considering which are the ones you’d really like to go to, versus those you might be attending purely out of obligation. If you don’t feel comfortable not attending, could you go for just a short amount of time instead? If the person organising the event is a loved one, try having an honest conversation with them and explaining how you feel. If they care about you, they won’t want to add to your feelings of stress or overwhelm.
Spending time in nature can help to reduce levels of stress hormones in the body and can boost endorphin levels and dopamine production, which are the happy hormones! Try to get outside once a day if you can, even if it’s only for a quick walk round the block. Bonus points for spending time somewhere leafy and green though, as this has additional mental health benefits! Exposing yourself to natural light, especially first thing in the morning, can also help improve sleep, which is another great way to combat stress.
Exercise is an excellent stress buster, as similarly to spending time in nature, movement reduces stress hormones and increases happy hormones! Not only this, but scheduling in time to move, whether it’s going for a swim, doing some yoga in your front room, or spending an hour in the gym, provides you with some ‘me time’ and a brief break from any stresses or responsibilities. It might not feel feasible to do this every day, but just prioritising some form of movement a few times a week can have a significant positive impact on your sense of wellbeing and ability to manage stress.
Write it down
If you’re feeling overwhelmed planning for Christmas and things generally feel a bit chaotic, spending some time organising your thoughts on paper can be incredibly helpful. You might want to make some to-do lists, use a prioritisation tool (google ‘prioritisation matrix’ for a helpful resource), or just spend some time jotting down a list of all the things you’ve got going round in your head. Doing this can help you feel more in control and better able to manage everything you’ve got on your plate during a hectic time.