Christmas is supposed to be a time for family, friends and festivities, but if you’re the one in the family who takes charge of every little detail you’ll know from previous years gone by that sometimes it can get a little bit stressful putting up with that awkward family member or friend who tries to undo all your goodwill.
I spoke to Zoe Warren, a qualified yoga teacher and a founder of a new wellness subscription brand Peachy With Zoe to find out how she copes with the stresses of the festive period. Here she shares her expertise on how to not break a bauble over Christmas.
How to stay calm during Christmas chaos:
Just because the speed of life gets unbelievably quick and chaotic at this time of year does not mean that we need to let ourselves and our nervous systems match this type of energy.
It is a time of year we are meant to feel joy and goodwill to all, yet the length of the to-do list can mean we feel the exact opposite!
No rush! Choose presence and awareness
As we try to squeeze work, children, parties, food, family, presents and a little dose of anxiety about the looming cost of living crisis, we often go into panic mode and do the opposite of what our bodies actually need in order to cope.
We tend to stop breathing properly, we don’t fuel our bodies with enough nourishing food, we don’t get outside into the fresh winter air enough and we avoid moving our bodies properly.
We also approach all our tasks quicker and quicker in a desperate attempt to try to get through them all. This almost always ends in tension with those closest to us and a general feeling of being completely overwhelmed by life.
It is a choice to choose chaos and stress and, also a choice to choose peace and balance. We have control over how we choose to react to our circumstances even if it doesn’t feel like it! Which one we end up choosing is entirely up to us and not a foregone conclusion from what is on our plates at this time of year.
We have to work at gently encouraging our minds into presence and awareness rather than whirring on auto-pilot. We need to create tiny pockets of space within our busy days so we can consciously remind ourselves to lean towards peace as opposed to searching for stress.
The more we add these conscious pauses, the more aware we begin to be of our actions, our habits and the way we tend to respond to life on auto-pilot.
Then, from this place of awareness, we can begin to implement small positive wellbeing shifts into our day which can have a hugely positive impact on our physical and mental health.
Here are some suggestions of moments we can squeeze into our day where our body and mind will have space to regulate and allow balance to be restored, maybe start with a couple, and see how they feel.
– Melt tightness in the body by stretching for a few minutes each morning
– Get outside in nature for a short walk or run every day
– Interrupt a negative busy mindset with a practice of gratitude
– Pause and allow 3 kind, slow breaths before responding to a challenging situation/ conversation/ message
– Put screens down for a few hours a day so we aren’t bombarded with an overload of information, especially in busy moments
– Implement little moments of mindfulness within a busy day; to lose yourself in some music, savour a cup of coffee or have a bath with no distractions
– Do 5 minutes of gentle massaging to release your neck and shoulders after a bath.
– say no to the odd night out and prioritize rest.
– Focus on slowing your breath for a few minutes before falling asleep.
– go to bed earlier.
– Don’t beat yourself up if your day overwhelms you. Simply allow a pause, a breath, some kind words and start again.
We must always start with the small moments as these are the areas of life that we have control over. If we start with these changes then the bigger worries and stresses in life can often begin to feel less overwhelming too.
On top of these little shifts can we also remember the total luck and absurdity of being on a ball of molten lava spinning in the infinity of space! We might as well enjoy the ride as best we can..
Small, simple shifts can make a big difference in restoring balance and energy in a time of year that tries its hardest to do the opposite.
Zoe is also running a dedicated Beat the January Blues at-home wellness retreat starting from 16 Jan (Blue Monday) for 6 days, info and sign up here: www.peachywithzoe.com