Coping with Stress
At this time of year it is inevitable that we become busier trying to get organised for the Christmas holidays. The word ‘stressed’ is heard regularly in Motivation clinics as clients can feel overwhelmed by the ‘to do’ list. Stress at Christmas is mostly self-imposed and avoidable even though we convince ourselves otherwise. Like everything in life it is the perception of what we’re expected to do, not the reality that makes us feel under pressure.
Why not change your attitude this year, step away from the manic shopping, the scarcity hype that causes consumers to panic and act like wild animals in the retail environment.
For your own sanity and happiness make the changes that you know will work. Focus on the components of a healthy lifestyle and aim to maintain these throughout the festive season. The way to do this is to look back at past Christmases and the pitfalls that caused you hassle or annoyance. I’ve put together a few ideas that might help this year to be more peaceful and enjoyable, not just one or two days but the whole month of December and into 2016.
1. Don’t over think – Christmas shopping is not difficult, having a perfectionist approach makes it so. This year make a list and stick to it. Don’t convince yourself it’s nearly done and end up driving to an overcrowded shopping centre two days before Christmas for those last two items. Aim to have it completed by the first week in December, this includes cards, wrapping paper and tags. If you’re concerned about forgetting someone or you have unexpected visitors, buy a couple of extra generic gifts like candles or diffusers. If you don’t need them they’re perfect for other occasions during the year.
2. Keep your routine – Abandoning a healthy eating and exercise routine is all too easy at Christmas. Supposed valid excuses flood the mind as to why this lifestyle can’t be maintained. The truth is that you will suffer greatly for doing this. If you’ve been practising a healthy lifestyle then you have undoubtedly felt the benefits. The effects of stopping even for a short while are horrible. Exercise should remain top priority at all times and especially during busier periods. The last thing you want is a plummet in mood and energy in December. Outdoor activity is great for boosting vitamin D so dry days are an opportunity for a good power walk. Maintaining a healthy diet will pay dividends in terms of mental and physical health, and boost your confidence when socialising.
3. Goals and Strategies – Many people are good at setting goals but don’t plan properly to achieve them. Hopefully you have some personal, social and family goals in mind, now it’s important to strategically plan the how part. Start with personal goals and remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving them. Maintain the effort you’ve been putting in, regardless of what’s going on around you. Keep it simple, especially for health and well-being. Apart from exercise and nutrition, aim to keep up water intake, watch alcohol, plan and cook meals in advance and keep up positive self-talk and positive affirmations. Feeling good about yourself will make other external goals much easier to achieve and reduce stress at Christmas as a positive self-image triggers positive motivation in all areas of life.
4. Consult the diary – Taking on too much and over committing is the main culprit in feeling stress at Christmas. You don’t need to attend every play, concert and drinks party in the neighbourhood. Preserve your energy where you can. Delay saying yes on the spot.
Instead consider until you check the diary for other arrangements. Running from pillar to post in a quest to be everywhere is impossible and leaves you in a state of panic. Attending fewer engagements and being able to relax and enjoy them leaves you with energy to do all the things mentioned in points 1 to 3.