While the festive season is something most of us look forward to, it can be a stressful time of year. Taking care of your wellbeing in the run-up to and during the festive season can make a big difference, whether you're having a big family Christmas or spending time on your own.
Here are some tips on how to avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed during the festive season.
Keep things in perspective
Try to be realistic about what you can do and how much money you can spend. Most importantly, try not to compare your experience with what other people are doing.
Make time for yourself
If you've been running around making preparations, it's a good idea to make some time to relax or do something you enjoy. If you can spare just a few moments for yourself, it could help you let go of any tension you're feeling - and that means you'll enjoy the holidays more.
Try putting aside some time to read a book or go for a walk outside, where the fresh air will help clear your head. Even if you only have a few minutes to spare here and there, you could practice some simple breathing techniques that may help make you feel more relaxed - try this:
- Sit comfortably in the quietest place you can find
- Inhale in through your nose counting up to five
- Exhale through your mouth without pausing or holding your breath, again to a count of five
- Continue for a few minutes
Some people find it difficult to switch off from their jobs during the holidays. You may struggle with not checking your emails, or not checking your work phone or laptop. But these behaviours could mean you're not fully disconnecting from your work life and getting the break you need.
Whenever you take a break, it's important to make the most of the time you spend away from work. So try to avoid switching on your laptop or checking your emails when you should be spending time with your loved ones or having a quiet time relaxing.
Listen to soothing sounds
Whatever stressful situation you may find yourself in, try listening to music, as it's been found to have a calming effect on the brain. This may explain why so many people enjoy Christmas carol concerts, as those uplifting choruses offer some well-timed relief from the pressure the season can bring.
Listening to natural sounds is also a great way to help calm your spirits, especially when you've been exposed to busy, noisy surroundings all day. You can listen to natural sounds online - websites offering free nature sounds include moodil.com and calmsound.com, or search for nature sounds in the Apple App store or Google Play.
Get plenty of sleep
Even if you don't have children to entertain, you may find your normal sleep patterns become disrupted by the lack of natural light at this time of year. Eating too much rich food and drinking more alcohol than you're used to could also mean you may not be getting the quality of sleep your body needs.
Lack of sleep can make you feel tired, stressed and irritable, so try not to cut corners where your sleep hours are concerned. Instead, stick to your usual sleep-wake schedule, which means going to bed and getting up at your normal time whenever you can.
For more help with getting a good night's sleep, read our Good Sleep Guide.
How CABA can help
We're here whenever you need help, support or information that could help improve your wellbeing. Our services are free for ICAEW members, ACA students and their families.