Stress savers

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week - Ev­ery time you start to feel over­whelmed by Christ­mas, re­mem­ber how many times you have sur­vived and en­joyed this time of year, ad­vises Perry. “Pro­vid­ing our­selves with plenty of ev­i­dence that we have the skills to tackle the chal­lenge ahead based on pas

THE days be­fore Christ­mas can be one of the busiest times of the year, and the ex­pec­ta­tions — from presents to par­ties — can eas­ily add to the stress. If you strug­gle to fathom how you’ll get ev­ery­thing done, you’re not alone. New re­search from Be­rocca has found 65% of us find it dif­fi­cult to stay en­er­gised and fo­cused dur­ing the Christ­mas pe­riod, while 57% feel un­der pres­sure to get through their to-do list on a stan­dard work­ing week, let alone with fes­tiv­i­ties on top. To help you thrive, we’ve spo­ken to char­tered psy­chol­o­gist Josephine Perry, who shares her tricks and tips on how to men­tally and phys­i­cally get through De­cem­ber with ease.

1. Fo­cus on one task at a time

“There is a lot to do and think about at Christ­mas time,” says Perry. “How­ever, our brain can only fully fo­cus on one thing at a time. Even when multi-task­ing, one task hap­pens au­to­mat­i­cally while we think about the other — mean­ing we don’t do ei­ther to our best abil­ity.”

Perry says that if we fo­cus on our key pri­or­i­ties rather than try­ing to do ev­ery­thing at once, we will have a less clut­tered mind. “Be­tween now and Christ­mas set time aside in the cal­en­dar for dif­fer­ent fo­cuses.

“Try putting your ac­tions in the di­ary, and ring-fence time to re­search and pur­chase presents for in­di­vid­ual fam­ily mem­bers, one at a time. You should do the same for food and party prep too.”

2. Re­mind your­self how many times you’ve ‘done’ Christ­mas 3. Keep on top of ex­er­cise and nutri­tion

“While it may not feel it’s a pro­duc­tive use of our lim­ited and pre­cious time, ex­er­cise will help you to feel more fo­cused and en­er­gised, ul­ti­mately mak­ing you more ef­fi­cient.”

Perry says that neu­ro­sci­en­tists have iden­ti­fied strong links be­tween aer­o­bic ex­er­cise and cog­ni­tive clar­ity.

“When we do vig­or­ous ex­er­cise, our frontal ex­ec­u­tive net­work sys­tem in our brain ex­pe­ri­ences in­creased blood flow. This is the area linked with plan­ning, fo­cus and con­cen­tra­tion and goal set­ting.

“If you can’t fit in sweat-in­duc­ing ex­er­cise, walk­ing can still be ben­e­fi­cial. If you have a busy work­ing week, walk­ing to meet­ings can be par­tic­u­larly help­ful.”

Make sure you’re fu­elling your body prop­erly, too. “This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod when we’ll of­ten be eat­ing on the hoof, or in­dulging in fes­tive de­lights.”

4. Know your mo­ti­va­tions

“For most of us, Christ­mas is about be­ing with those we love and cre­at­ing happy mem­o­ries,” says Perry.

“Sim­ply be­ing happy and present dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod is enough, which should re­mind us that we don’t need to do ev­ery­thing and it’s not worth be­ing stressed out, as this will stop us from en­joy­ing the mo­ment.”

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