Keep stress at bay this Christmas

When you think of Christmas, do you imagine having fun and catching up with friends and family? Or do you dread the financial pressures, the constant rushing around to make everything perfect on the big day and the nausea, indigestion and heartburn that come with eating and drinking too much festive food?

If your first thought is the downside of Christmas, chances are you tend to experience more than your fair share of stress during the festive period. Indeed according to a survey by AXA PPP Healthcare, 26 percent of people would prefer to give the festivities a miss altogether. So is it any wonder that Christmas often makes an appearance in lists of life’s most stressful events?

If you don’t manage stress particularly well, the added pressure of the festive season can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health. So it’s particularly important to look after yourself at this time of year, especially if you’re the one who’s in charge of making sure everyone else has a Christmas to remember.

Here are a few things you can try to stay calm and enjoy yourself this year:

Spoil yourself too Christmas is your holiday too, so try to make some time to do something relaxing while someone else peels the Brussels sprouts. Find a quiet corner where you can listen to some soothing music or read a chapter of a good book, and take a long relaxing bath at the end of the day to unwind too. If you don’t have that much time to spare, try doing this easy breathing exercise to relax your body and your mind whenever you feel your stress levels rising:

  • Sit comfortably in the quietest place you can find.
  • Inhale in through your nose deeply and hold while you count up to 10.
  • Exhale through your mouth, then repeat, feeling the stress flowing away.
  • Continue for three to five minutes.

Snack on turkey If you’re cooking a turkey for Christmas dinner, have a slice or two when you feel peckish instead of snacking on crisps or chocolates. Turkey contains a chemical called tryptophan that’s thought to help calm your brain, plus it could help you avoid Christmas weight gain if you have a slice instead of a handful of Celebrations. Eating as healthily as possible can also help your body deal with stress, so make sure you get at least five portions of fruit and veg.

Avoid caffeine Drinking lots of caffeinated coffee may help keep you going when you have lots to do, but it may also keep you awake at night when you should be getting plenty of rest to prepare for the day ahead. Try having decaffeinated coffee or a refreshing cup of herbal tea instead.

Go for a walk A post-Christmas lunch walk can be beneficial in many ways. The exercise can help reduce stress and give your energy levels a boost, plus it will help burn off some of those excess Christmas calories. Remember to wrap up well by wearing lots of layers, a hat, scarf and gloves.

Drink in moderation Try to avoid having a few extra drinks to keep you feeling calm. It may help you feel better in the short term, but if you drink too much you could end up feeling decidedly unfestive the next day – which won’t help your stress levels if you’re entertaining on Boxing Day too.

Read our article How to drink smart this Christmas for tips on how to drink less when the booze is flowing.

If you find it difficult to relax and unwind at this time of year, your local Careway pharmacist can give you lots of advice and recommend gentle over-the-counter products that may be helpful. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.