‘Tis the season to be jolly, so they say. But the Christmas festivities can also be the root cause of untold stress and seemingly insurmountable pressures. A time of year when we are programmed to think of others, we often fail to recognise our own needs, health and well-being. With this in mind, Currys PC World recently teamed up mindfulness expert, John Lingley, to create some top tips for avoiding festive stress and looking after numero uno.
- Try mindful eating
Find yourself constantly on your feet during the countdown to Christmas? Take regular breaks and tuck into your favourite snacks to lower your stress levels. The trick is to eat them mindfully – imagine you’ve just landed on Earth from another planet, and never seen the snack before. Examine it closely, notice the smell, and consciously chew and swallow the food. Focusing on the pleasurable sensations will boost feelings of relaxation, while lowering any tension too.
- Adopt the 5-5-5 technique
If you feel like your mind is whirring at a million miles an hour when you hit the shops, the 5-5-5 technique is a great way to bring you back to the present moment. Just become aware of five things you can see, five things you can hear, and five things making contact with your body. The calming technique will soon bring you out of your thoughts, and leave you feeling more positive about all those presents you need to buy.
- Practice “letting go”
Most of us find big crowds stressful. But the key is to “let go” of any judgemental thoughts that pop into your head while you’re navigating them. Observe negative thoughts like, “I can’t stand crowds”, as an impartial witness. By being aware of the negative thoughts, you’ll stop your them spiralling out of control, and avoid a pre-Christmas meltdown.
- Deal with difficult emotions head on
Spending too much time with tricky in-laws, parents or siblings can bring all sorts of difficult emotions to the surface. Lingley recommends a mindfulness technique of identifying these emotions arising within you, instead of ignoring them. Is your mother-in-law interfering again? Or is your dad being overbearing? Identify any troublesome emotions by saying, “I have a sense of anger arising”, or “I can sense irritation.” This will help stop difficult emotions from going unchecked and a heated argument escalating.
- Focus on your breathing
Navigating the manic Christmas crowds can quickly raise your stress levels. When you feel your heart-rate start to rise, Lingley recommends a quick mindfulness trick – bringing awareness to your breathing. Get into the zone by focusing on the rising and falling of your chest, during the in-breath and out-breath. You’ll soon feel calm and collected, even in the midst of all the festive shopping frenzy.
- Listen to calming music
Nothing beats a relaxing playlist to help you stay calm during Christmas preparations. But, if you really want to get in a chilled out mood, make sure you listen to soothing music genres. Lingley suggests popping relaxing piano music or instrumental Chinese tracks onto your playlist. Calming nature tracks, or enchanted forest music can be great at relieving stress while you’re out and about running last-minute errands or cooking a big family meal.
- Accept the situation
Hate the achingly long queues on the High Street in the run-up to Christmas? According to Lingley, much of the stress comes from wishing things were different. So instead of saying to yourself, “Why do they not have more people serving!”, try repeating the mantra, “It is what it is!” Accepting and surrendering to the situation will make it much more bearable, and not half as stressful as you originally thought.
For more festive survival tips & ideas, click here.