How To Stay Calm Over the Christmas Period
I hope you are on to a strong start to the week so far and have been cooking up some mean dishes with all the incredible seasonal produce. Have you tried my newly updated mince pie recipe yet? They are serious game changers!
Last week I talked about how to fight the bodily stress that comes with a cocktail too many (AKA the hangover to end all hangovers!) – so this week I am going to go ahead and talk you through exactly how to beat the other kind of stress; the mental stress that that can leave us feeling overwhelmed, depleted and stupidly inadequate.
Why is it during the festive period we suddenly turn in to mad headless chickens as we run around trying to live up to expectations, please everyone around us and feel pressure to be so, well, happy all the time?! It is almost as though we make that choice to be hard on ourselves and push ourselves to the limit because that appears to be what every one else is doing – so we roll with it. But the outcome? Not so fun.
It’s true, Andy Williams had a fair point: Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. But for many it can also be a time of loneliness and emptiness for not feeling that annual excitement and for simply wanting to take a step back to relax as opposed to stepping in to that slippery ice rink holding crowds of big spending Christmas shoppers.
Here I am sharing my top life hacks for staying calm over the Christmas period; hacks that have seen me through many a year and I hope will help my Glow Girls too!
Of course this would have to my number 1 way to keep balanced… You know how much I loooove my quiet time. But hey, it’s all for good reason! If you’re feeling skeptical and can’t help but picture yourself sitting in a dimly lit room filled with monks sporting white robes and bonging chimes – allow me to introduce you to the modern (and much more realistic!) way of blissing out.
The benefits of taking just 10 minutes to close your eyes and clear your mind are endless; from helping to improve focus, decrease stress and anxiety to even relieving pain, inflammation and improve immunity. The ‘magic’ of meditation is due to real effects inside the body, including changes to the brain, reduced stress hormones, a positive influence on the nervous system and emotional regulation.
2. EAT HAPPY FOODS
Whilst looking after your mind is crucial for keeping calm over Christmas, getting the right nutrition is also key. During those ‘blue moments’, you want to be loading up your plate with feel good foods that can actually help to boost your mood and make you feel super bright, even on the darkest December day.
Take chocolate for example: Not just a delight to the taste buds, eating chocolate has been linked to releasing endorphins and reducing the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies. All the more reason to get your bake on and whip up a batch of my hemp and banana chocolate cake, then?
Whilst a diet purely based around chocolate is tempting at this time of year – there are plenty of other foods that bring us some much needed comfort and joy. Eggs, nuts, oats, beans, lentils, cheese and fish are all on the good list for producing that serotonin in our bodies as they contain the essential amino acid tryptophan. Get creative with your cooking, enjoy the process and sit down mindfully to enjoy it and reap up those beautiful benefits!
Oh, and one last thing… When it comes to eating to feel good, you can never have too many greens.
3. MOVE YOUR BODY!
Whenever I have a down day, nothing picks me up more than a killer work out. With exercise, I like to change things up and will only do as much as I feel like doing – as well as what I genuinely enjoy. So if you asked me to join you on a muddy intense bootcamp at 5am, then I would probably (okay, definitely!) have to decline. But a laughter filled barre class with my girlfriends? Or an empowering weight training session? A simple 15 minute yoga flow in my living room whilst Shay sleeps? Count me in!
It’s all about being kind to yourself and finding a way of moving your body that serves you. Never underestimate the power of getting out of bed (even when all you want to do is hide under the covers) and embracing the day with an endorphin boosting work out to benefit both your mind and body. Take a second now to ask yourself exactly what sort of exercise makes you feel best and perhaps make the intention to set aside some time over Christmas to incorporate it in to your days. You may just be surprised how good you feel once you have mastered that downward dog…!
4. MAKE PLANS WITH FRIENDS (BUT KNOW THAT IT’S ALSO OKAY TO SAY ‘NO’)
‘Tis the season when our social calendars go in to overdrive; which is all well and good if it means lengthy brunches of scrambled eggs and matcha (yum!) or wind down girly dinners complete with a good bottle of red. Being around those you love, absorbing their good energy and penciling more plans in to your diary to do just that is a sure fire way to feel happy over Christmas… But you know what? It is also okay to say ‘no’ from time to time.
Those after work drinks you’d rather turn down in favour of a night with your fave podcasts and a hot bath? Or the networking event that you don’t really need to go to? It’s all good: You know your friends will survive if you are not there… Just. 😉
You just do what you want to do, girl. No one knows what is best for you like yourself, right?
5. GET CREATIVE
And finally – the super calming hack that never fails to lift my spirits and get me in the festive mood whilst centering my thoughts and helping me to distance myself from the everyday stresses at the same time. Whether it is painting, practicing typography, tree decorating, flower arranging or cooking – choosing to put that phone away and finding a creative task that makes you feel good is a proven way to wave goodbye to anxiety and hello to a clear mind! You will have probably seen the endless variations of ‘mindfulness’ colouring books for adults fly off the shop shelves – so the surprisingly incredible mood boosting benefits really do speak for themselves.
Remember that you really do not have to be a pro with the paintbrush or have the eye of an interior designer to get started – perfection is definitely not what we are striving for here. Simply look at it as a way of escaping from all the craziness that rises during December that you can revisit whenever you feel overwhelmed. Why not just try it and see how it goes?
And now I am going to pass the post over to you, my beautiful readers… How do you manage your mentality at this time of year? Like with diets and exercise, different things work for different people for fighting stress – so I would love to hear your top tips to zen out!