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.”