The festive season should be a time to relax and celebrate with friends and family, but somehow it tends to leave us feeling like we need a holilday after the holidays. From family obligations, to a jam packed social calendar, and an overflowing list of gifts to buy, it's no wonder we're left feeling overwhelmed. Here are our best tips to survive the festive season unscathed and start the New Year feeling fresh.
When things become a bit much this month, force yourself to take a deep breath. While it may seem too simple and something that should come so naturally to us, when things get busy we often forget to stop and catch our breath. When you take a deep breath, your calming parasympathetic nervous system is activated, and the sympathetic nervous system response is reduced. It is the sympathetic nervous system that sends you into "fight or flight" mode in high-stress situations (like a heated family discussion about Brexit). Whenever you get a moment, stop and take a few deep breaths you will instantly be in a much better frame of mind.
Move your body
Don't use the festive season as an excuse to give up on your exercise routine. You'll notice a difference in the New Year if you keep up your workout habits over December instead of replacing the gym with the pub. Make your workouts social by bringing your friends or colleagues along to your favourite fitness class or try out a new studio together. The mood boosting endorphin hit from a high energy session will be exactly what you need post Christmas shopping. Check out Tameka Small's best tips for exercising over winter
Take the pressure off
Have a think about everything you need to do this month. From buying gifts, to social and family obligations and tying things up at work, it's no doubt you're feeling the pressure. Tell yourself right now that you don't have to do it all. Have a look through your lists and schedules and realistically think about which ones you need to do, and which ones are just adding unnecessary stress. All of the ones that are not a top priority, give yourself permission to scrap them. If the thought of this sends you into a frenzied state of panic, take a deep breath (see above) and ask yourself "What is the worst thing that will happen if I don't do this?"
Think before you buy
The last thing you need to add to the frantic festivities this month is extra financial stress. When making your lists and doing your Christmas shopping, have a think about whether you really need to spend that much. Are you splashing out on something too expensive because you feel obliged to spend a certain amount? Have you settled for something at a higher price point because you can't find anything else and you're pressed for time? Sit down and make a proper plan for your gift buying and to ensure you don't overspend unnecessarily.
Give yourself a break
See if this year you can actually turn on your Out of Office on the 22nd of December, enter a deep state of holiday mode and stay there until the 2nd of January. If you have the luxury of having time off over Christmas, try not to let yourself be pulled back into work and disconnect with the need to "check in" on how things are going. It can wait. Chances are, you need this break and you'll only be doing yourself more harm in the long run if you start a new year without feeling rested and refreshed. Release any guilt you have about certain commitments or responsibilities and recognise that you have control. This is your time to spend with your loved ones, allow yourself to enjoy it!