How to manage Christmas stress


For some of us Christmas is a happy and special time of year, for others it is pure stress. The big build up of expectations to enjoying the holiday with family, family dysfunction, the financial strain, pressure to entertain the kids while on school holidays, managing your own stress, anxiety or other psychological, physical and medical conditions on top of all of this. Here are a few tips:

1. Track your stress:

Establish your stress barometers. Think about the last time you felt really stressed and what your symptoms were. Were you feeling breathless, nauseous, or suddenly feel hot and sweaty. Learn to recognise your early symptoms so you can avoid the exhaustion of anxiety and/or panic attacks.

2. Manage your stress:

Respond to stress overload straight away. For example, when you are noticing anxiety or panic, breathe in slowly through your nose, hold your breath until you need to exhale, then exhale slowly and evenly through your mouth. Do 20 of these mindful breaths. This will help you feel back in control and be able to carry on with the festivities.

3. Take on less responsibilities:

Learn to say “no” like you mean it. Almost everyone wants something from you. If you limit your obligations firmly and politely, you will be less likely to overload yourself.
Consider keeping a diary or list of tasks including social engagements, and if any day appears too hectic, rank your obligations in order of importance. Politely excuse yourself from the least important items.

4. Eat mindfully:

Overindulgence is a real problem at this time of year. To eat mindfully, notice scents, colours, textures and flavours of your food. Eat more slowly than usual – that allows you to recognise when you’ve eaten enough.

5. Make time for “Me Time”:
Take time for a relaxing and enjoyable activities, maintain your health and exercise routines, don’t forget to keep up with your prescription medications.

I wish you a calmer Christmas.
Regards, Deb Kahler, Psychologist