The Christmas Countdown: Tips to Help Ease Stress

The shops are playing Christmas songs, adverts for party food are on TV every night, and diaries are filling up with exciting festive engagements: the run up to Christmas is a magical time with lots of merriment, but it can also be mentally draining, physically exhausting and, at times, just outright anxiety inducing.

Here are a couple of things to try over include in, or get you started with, your morning routine to help with The Christmas Countdown.

Bonus points if you can do them before checking your phone!

Get up and move your body – stretch it out

When the mornings are colder and darker, it can be hard to get out of bed (believe me, I know). However, I’m a firm believer that some stretchy movement first thing in the morning is really helpful for the rest of the day. (Also, movement naturally gets you warm so even if you get cold getting up, you won’t be for long!).

It doesn’t have to be a full-on workout, or leaving the house in the cold darkness, it could just be some simple stretches or mobility exercises. For example, moving through child’s pose, some cat/cows, downdogs or seated twists, can be great for both mind and body.

Movement helps the body release cortisol, serotonin, and endorphins, this helps to lower stress levels and encourage you to feel good and more energetic for the rest of the day. Brill! There is also research to show that by achieving something as small as getting out of bed and completing a short movement routine, works wonders for helping us feel like we’ve already achieved something before the day has properly started. Winner.

Finally, moving, stretching, strengthening, releasing can only be good (provided we are safe and avoid injury). Your body will thank you later.

Pranayama – breathwork to bring yourself to the present moment

By focussing on the breath, we can bring ourselves to the present moment – an excellent place to start the day. By allowing ourselves time to not worrying about to-do lists, shopping lists, what we ate last night… we can just be here, now. Repeat to yourself: I am here, now, in this body.

Also, increasing the amount of oxygen in your lungs and blood is a great way to refresh after a night’s sleep.

Try a few rounds of Box Breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, exhale for four, pause for four. Then repeat the cycle for a few rounds.

Journaling – How am I feeling this morning?

Start the day by asking yourself that question: how am I feeling?

Write down what comes up without judgement or getting lost in stories (or making it into a to-do list). Instead, notice how you are feeling mentally and physically. Are you tired or energetic, for example? Are you feeling purposeful or tense? Are you achy, sad, excited, or is your mind full of chatter you can’t switch off. Getting it on the page does help to free the mind.

Read back over what you have written and notice any patterns or triggers. Notice if you write things like ‘I must do’ or ‘I need to’ and see if you can change the language to something less black and white, ‘I would like to…’ or ‘it would be good if I could…’ We put so much pressure on ourselves over Christmas to get things done! You can’t fill from an empty cup and so taking time in the mornings to really notice how we are feeling, and our energy levels, can be useful.

Meal planning – Life is too short to say no to roast potatoes

This might seem a little controversial, but I write about food because I can really make myself feel awful over what I eat and drink in the run up to Christmas. During this time of year, I’m lucky that I get to go out and see friends and eat in lovely restaurants with family quite a lot. I don’t want to seem miserable and turn down the invites, (or tearfully look through a menu… I’ve been there!) so instead, I think about the meals I can control that day and what I can make for myself that is fresh and healthy.

Then I don’t get lost in self-blame for enjoying a roast potato or two. Or seven.

This time of year is meant to be fun, so accept there will be times of over-indulgence without feeling guilty.

Find a yoga class and get booked on

Finally, there’s something really special about taking part in a yoga class in winter. It can be online from the comfort of your own home, or finding a local class. There’s something very cosy about sharing a class with others – feeling their energy surround you and lift you up, and the teacher (hopefully) saying something soothing. Release and relax, stretch and re-set; yoga is all about helping the body and mind feel good. Go and get that yoga buzz!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s