A row of feet in Christmas socks

Eugene Farrell

Ten ways to help you beat stress this Christmas

Christmas can provide an excellent break for many people, with family gatherings and meeting up with friends. It can also be a stressful and difficult time. So, what can we do to keep our mental health in good shape over the holiday period and increase our enjoyment at this time. 

Sadly, we have to remember that the pandemic is not over, so do observe current guidance and rules applicable to wherever you are this Christmas.

 

Number 1

Be kind to yourself

Remember, you can’t control everything. We can waste a lot of emotional effort trying to control things beyond our control. Think about things that are worrying you, making you upset angry or annoyed - are any of those outside of your control? If they are outside of your control then let them go! You will feel better having released them, and you will have more energy to put into things that are within your control.

Number 2

Set realistic goals

Very often stress is caused by unrealistic expectations, setting the bar too high, and expecting too much of others and ourselves. Plan how you are going to achieve your goals with realistic expectations in mind. Don’t be influenced by social media and the media in general. Keep it simple.

Number 3

Set a budget

Avoid going into debt that might make you feel guilty and depressed. Plan how much you’ll be spending, look for bargains, compromise and stick to your budget. How much money can you realistically devote to the Christmas Holiday?  You can still make it special on a small budget.

Number 4

Spend time with friends and family

Christmas is an ideal time to get together with others, whether they are friends or family. Being social is good for our mental health. Last Christmas was more difficult to get together, so try to make an effort this year, catch up with those you haven’t seen for a while – safely of course.

Number 5

Save time for some ‘Me time’

It may be that things are getting too much, or just that you never seem to get some personal space. Make some time for you, time to relax, or go for a walk, a run or just sit reading a book, listening to music or doing some meditation. A little time to unwind and just be yourself for yourself and not others. This little recharge will help you manage and cope better and provide a reset for you.

Number 6

Take your emotional temperature

Keep in touch with yourself, how you are doing and coping. Every day, at least once, take your emotional temperature. Ask yourself “on a scale of 1 – 5 how am I feeling?” As we rush through life we find we don’t have the time to check in with ourselves, we have developed habits of coping and acting that we believe enable us to keep going. But some of these habits can be bad ones. We have to look after ourselves, particularly if we are looking out for others. You can also try making a journal, blog or video. You might want to go further and ask what do I need less of? What do I need more of?

Number 7

Reach out and talk

If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t bottle it up or put on a brave face. Talk it out with your partner, a family member or a friend. Letting someone know how you are feeling can really help. Maybe you can’t solve everything now, but sharing can help you see things differently and perhaps make plans for later. Be a friend to others too, let it be known that you’re there if someone needs a friend, a chat or just a hug.

Number 8

STOP

It’s easy to respond to something or someone, perhaps in a way we might not have planned to do so. Don’t let emotions rule your reactions, give yourself a little space to gather your thoughts and move forward with intention. Use a little tool like STOP.

S - Stop for a moment

T - Take a breath (or two)

O - Observe the situation, like an outsider looking on

P - Proceed forward with a chosen, deliberate action.

A breath in and out helps to calm the mind and we can choose our own direction and not the one an emotion chooses for us.

Number 9

Make it special

With so much anxiety and change around we need a little boost to lift our mood. Make each day fun and enjoyable, lots of little things works as well as one big thing. Bring fun, silliness, pleasure and joy to the break. Remember to stop and allow yourself to feel the enjoyment.

And…

Reward yourself

Many people give of themselves all the time and forget about themselves. Give yourself a treat, a reward that will make you feel better. You’ve probably been putting it off or overthinking it, procrastinating or feeling a bit fearful about doing or getting something. Be impulsive and go for it, almost certainly you deserve it.