Health Keeping your cool at Christmas, better sleep
The countdown is on! Follow this eight-week wind-down plan to make it an easy, breezy festive season
From buying presents to organising the family get-together, things can get crazy really quickly in the lead-up to Christmas.
“Stress, anxiety, worry and panic are natural human emotions, and are the result of feeling overwhelmed as a result of our expectations,” Brisbane psychologist Dr Romana Bowd says. “Sometimes we just need to expect less from ourselves and plan for wellness rather than become overwhelmed.”
And how do we do that? Australia’s top wellness experts reveal their p planning gp tips...
WEEK EIGHT MAKE LISTS
“We all want to wrap up the year and sometimes we can become a bit flustered when it comes to things we need to complete,” says Lisa Lawson, manager of Sydney’s Stretch Studio (stretchstudios.com.au). “Making lists is a great way of compartmentalising the things you need to do. And each day tick off what you have done.”
WEEK SEVEN GET CREATIVE
“Spend an evening or morning imagining your perfect Christmas,” says Lisa. “Who you would like to spend it with, what environment you would like to be in. Maybe even create a little vision board or spend some time on Pinterest, allowing your imagination to run wild.”
WEEK SIX SHARE THE LOAD
“With gifts to buy, as well as events, decorations, food and entertaining to arrange, it’s important that you don’t bear the full mental load yourself,” says Ballarat-based psychologist gist Ellen Jackson. “This week, make a list of all the major pre-christmas tasks and enlist help. Encourage your family to make Christmas preparations a team effort.”
WEEK FIVE THINK ABOUT YOUR MONEY
“Finances are a major source of stress for many families throughout the year,” Ellen adds. “Christmas gifts and festivities add further weight. This week, perhaps rethink gift-giving to reduce financial strain. Secret Santa keeps costs down, or you can restrict gifts just to kids and talk to them about Santa’s limited budget.”
WEEK FOUR JUST BREATHE
“When feeling overwhelmed, take the time to connect to your breath,” Lisa advises. “Taking nice, big, deep thoracic breaths from your belly helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm the mind. So in those stressful moments, remember to breathe.”
WEEK THREE STRETCH IT OUT
“We can often find ourselves feeling very stressed and our bodies full of tension in the lead-up to Christmas,” says Lisa. “It is important that we allow ourselves the time to relax and release the tension from our bodies. A flexible body will help with a flexible mind. Head to a yoga class near you, or why not go for a stretch?”
WEEK TWO TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
“You’ll be busy and it might feel self-indulgent to step away and focus on you, but you cannot keep on top of your tasks and care for others if you’re drowning,” Ellen says. “Schedule a few hours for yourself this week. Have lunch with a friend, see a movie, take a trip to the beach or just sit in the sun and read. You’ll find yourself refreshed, renewed and ready to go.”
CHRISTMAS WEEK BE PRESENT
“When the big day comes, make sure you enjoy the little moments,” adds Ellen. “With so much going on, it’s easy to get caught up in the urgency of trying to make everything run smoothly. The act of paying attention helps you to calm your body and mind, and to savour special moments. Slow down, pause, breathe and notice what’s going on around you. Enjoy the children’s smiles, the festive atmosphere and the great food. Congratulate yourself on getting to this point. You deserve it!”
Relax with some yoga, stretching and deep breathing. Enjoy each moment of the big day.