It may be a time of celebration but the festive season can also be a stressful period for many – especially after the whirlwind that has been 2020, and without the many implications of a global pandemic.
Here are a few tips to help you and your wellbeing over the festive period if your days aren’t all merry and bright.
Comparing ourselves with other people can have a big effect on how we feel. Sometimes this can be a good thing – motivating us to do better to do as those we admire.
However, if we don’t think we can be as good as the images we are seeing, it can have a negative impact on our self-esteem. Social media and consumer advertising can make this worse, and lead to a treadmill of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, especially at Christmas.
A great way to combat this is to limit exposure to social media and television advertising. Try setting a limit on how much time you spend on social media, or do a bit of cleaning on your ‘following’ list and unfollow any accounts that make you feel negatively about yourself.
Be gentle with yourself
We often put ourselves under a huge amount of emotional and financial pressure to achieve the ‘perfect’ Christmas – we can sometimes be our own worst enemy by expecting perfection and putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure when in reality nobody else expects it.
Try to think about Christmas realistically and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t turn out the way you thought they “should do”. Don’t let your inner critic get you down. Speak kindly to yourself, and imagine how unimportant this stress will seem in a couple of months time – or even in a couple of weeks time.
Wrap everything up at work before you break up
One of the busiest and most stressful times of the year can be the run-up to holidays when you may be faced with clearing the work on your desk and preparing plans for someone to take on your work while you are away.
To ensure you don’t wake up on Christmas Day in a cold sweat during the early hours wondering whether you sent that email, consider the following:
- Plan your leave: Take time out to look at what you have to do before you go on your break. Make a list and check it twice like Saint Nick himself.
- Prioritise: Do you have to complete that item on your list now? Or can it wait until the New Year?
- Delegate: By planning a few weeks ahead you may realise that you haven’t got time to do everything. Ask for support – someone may be able to help or you may find that important tasks could be left until later.
- Manage expectations: Be realistic about what you can deliver, and when.
- Plan for your return after the holiday: Leave a couple of days free of deadlines and meetings so you can hit the ground running when you get back to work for the start of a fresh New Year! List the work you put off until you get back so that nothing gets forgotten.
Take a break
Once you know your work is in hand, you’ll be able to breathe easier without intrusive thoughts of work and deadlines. We’ve earnt a break this year, so make sure you take it.
If you find your stress levels rising, do something you enjoy. Whether it’s a walk, grabbing a coffee or listening to music – whatever will help you to relax or unwind.
If you’re in or around Birmingham, there are a range of outdoor areas available to visit – including the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Open 7 days a week (except for Christmas Day and Boxing day), the Gardens is a beautiful space with so many different areas to explore.
Everything in moderation – including the Christmas spirits
It can be tempting to overindulge at Christmas both due to the availability of food and drink. It can also be tempting to have an alcoholic beverage to cope with any stress, but keep an eye on your intake and limit your alcohol consumption to avoid beer fear and wine anxiety which might make you feel worse.
But if you do overindulge, don’t beat yourself up about it. Grab your walking boots or trainers and go outside for a crisp winter walk or do some exercise to get those endorphins pumping. We have a great HIIT workout for you with our Creative Artworker, Craig.
Take a deep breath
The simplest mental wellbeing trick of all, but yet we often do it without giving it a second thought.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.
Before sleep or whenever you feel stress or anxiety building, concentrate for a minute or so on taking slow, steady, deep breaths, emptying your lungs as much as possible in between each breath. Breathe in for four counts and out for four – in through your nose, out through your mouth.
If you need something to follow, try watching this video and breathe in time with the movement.
Open up and talk
Talking with a friend or family member about the things that are worrying you can help you to realise that some of them aren’t so important after all, and help you to focus on one or two things that are at the root of your worry.
If you don’t feel as if you can talk to your friends or family, that’s fine. It’s often difficult to talk to the people closest to us. There are a range of charities there to help you if you need to talk to someone – click here to take a look at the resources available.