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Simple ways to reduce your stress during the holidays

by The Bagnall Centre on November 15th 2017

The allure of the holiday season may begin to lose its sparkle as to do lists grow longer and longer, and you start to feel that the magic of Christmas is up to YOU to procure!

But there are some easy and natural ways for you to relax the pace during this hectic run up to Christmas, and to reclaim the magic for yourself and your family.

Here are our 7 top tips which are natural, simple and can also benefit you in the long run, but for this season of stress, they are even more important.

  1. Tap into the anxiety-relieving properties of herbs

Aromatherapy is well known as a natural way to reduce anxiety, but many people don't realise that you can easily reap its benefits with just a small dab of an essential oil. Studies have shown that scents can affect our neural pathways via our olfactory sensors, which can improve feelings of wellbeing, reduce anxiety, and relax the nervous system.

Try investing in some pure essential oil, dilute it a little, and dab it on your pulse points, as a natural way to reduce your levels of anxiety at this stressful time of year.

Unlike pharmaceutical anti-anxiety treatments, essential oils have no negative side-effects - in fact, not only can they help you feel calmer, you’ll also smell amazing!

For a full list of which essential oils can help with different aspects emotional wellbeing, visit https://www.aromaweb.com/essentialoils/emotional.asp

  1. Feet up, kettle on.

Another way to take advantage of the amazing relaxing properties of herbs is with a herbal tea. During the manic holiday season, you may want to switch out your blood-pressure raising cup of coffee for a calming and beneficial brew of natural herbs.

Not only has the caffeine in coffee been officially linked to anxiety disorders, it has actually been used by researchers to induce panic and anxiety attacks in patients with anxiety disorders during clinical studies! By swapping it for an anxiety reducing herbal tea, you will not only gain the benefits of the herbs themselves, but also avoid the counter-productive effects of coffee.

If you still feel like you need your caffeine hit, however, you could try switching to a high-quality green tea. It will still give you a boost, but has also been shown to have cognitive benefits, due to the fact that it contains the amino-acid L-theanine, which improves alertness as well as having a calming effect.

For a list of anti-anxiety herbs which can be used for tea, and their properties, and a simple herbal tea recipe, visit http://www.livingherbaltea.com/herbal-tea-for-anxiety/

  1. Spend time outside

Getting outside and into the sunshine can benefit everyone all year round, but especially at this time of year, when exposure to sunlight and fresh air is reduced for most people.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression which has been directly linked to the reduction of daylight, as well as to the lack of exercise that hiding indoors to escape the bitter winter weather can often contribute to. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be seriously affected by the so-called ‘winter-blues’, a lack of sunlight and fresh air can still have an impact or your mood and stress levels.

Making time to be outside and connect with nature can bring lots of positive health benefits. Find out more about some of the benefits of ecotherapy here. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/ecotherapy/#.WhQOabTQpp8

Breathing in fresh air and putting some space between yourself and the tangle of last year’s tinsel can calm your nerves and allow you to boost your energy levels naturally, and feel rejuvenated and re-energised.

  1. Exercise

Just going for a walk will boost your circulation and get your blood flowing. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of major illness and developing chronic conditions as well as lowering your risk of early death by up to 30%. Physical exercise can also boost your mood and energy. The NHS calls exercise a miracle cure (read more about why here) https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/whybeactive.aspx so try to find time to fit exercise into your everyday and your body will thank you!

  1. Plan, Delegate and Designate

It’s not up to you to single-handedly make everyone else’s Christmas merry. You deserve to enjoy your Christmas just as much as anyone else!

That means that everyone else has a responsibility to help you out a bit, too. Asking your support network of family and friends to help you with small tasks throughout the holiday period means that those around you will learn to become active and helpful participants, and better appreciate everything that you do for them.

Write it down! Whether you like writing to do lists, or mind maps, or using a diary to capture your thoughts and tasks, taking the time to positively plan can help decrease your stress levels.

Visualising what needs to be done and mapping out days in advance can really help you feel in control.

Remember that being overloaded can reduce the amount of things which you manage to get done effectively anyway, as work overload can lead to reduction in concentration levels and cognitive function, irritability, and physical aches and pains. It is better to ask for help before you get to breaking point!

  1. Schedule meditation time

With looming school holidays and time off work it is very easy and common for routines to slide. Try to set away a few minutes of each day for yourself. You may like to meditate or you may find that just allowing yourself a few minutes each day to just be mindful and aware of yourself and the present moment can help you feel more resilient and capable.

  1. Combat stress with food

A lot of research has shown that a diet rich in certain nutrients can go a long way to reduce levels of anxiety, as well as stabilising blood sugar and mood.

Up your intake of Omega-3s, zinc, magnesium, probiotic and prebiotic foods -  key nutrients recommended to combat stress as well as ensuring you have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and keep hydrated. If you’re drinking alcohol during the festive season, then make sure you have a glass of water at the same time.

If you can work out ways to sneak some extra goodness into the Christmas feast, you will not only feel better yourself, and may even perhaps avoid the sluggish Boxing Day food-hangover, but you may notice an improvement in those around you - and no matter what, you will know that you have done your best to boost everyone’s health!

At the end of the day, the holidays are a time of love and togetherness, and you deserve to enjoy it without tearing your hair out. Stay calm, and try to carve out a little bit of time for yourself.

References:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ffj.2045/abstract?userIsAuthenticated=false&deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=

https://bebrainfit.com/caffeine-anxiety/

https://www.institutefornaturalhealing.com/2012/06/stress-busting-nutrient-in-green-tea-ends-anxiety/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/

https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/winter-blues-SAD.aspx

http://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/work-related-stress-causes-signs-and-symptoms

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_98.htm