33% of us experience anxiety at Christmas time – we ask our expert contributors for their best stress-less advice during the festive rush.
According to David Lloyd’s latest health survey, over half of us feel that we have no time for ourselves during December. Between present shopping, social events and food prepping, the Christmas season can be a time of stress as much as it is a time of joy.
Thankfully, our health experts are here to help you reclaim the busy season and find real relaxation and contentedness in the coming weeks…
1. Find a minute to be creative
“Whether it’s tree decorating, flower arranging or cooking – choosing to put your phone away and finding a creative task that makes you feel good (and isn’t for anyone else’s benefit) is a proven way to wave goodbye to anxiety and say hello to a clear mind!” Madeleine Shaw, health coach and yoga teacher
2. Find the light
“During these darker days, open the curtains wide, have breakfast by a window, and walk all or part of your commute. This contributes to setting your circadian rhythm, which will help you sleep at night .” Dr Rangan Chatterjee, GP and author.
3. Up your B vitamins
“B vitamins may have mood-boosting properties so aim for a diet rich in B12, B6 and folic acid during the Christmas rush. Find them in seafood, green leafy veg and whole grains.” Will Hawkins, nutritionist
4. Try a worry download
“Get your notebook out and write down everything on your mind. It all needs to go somewhere so best to get it out onto the page. Once you see it right in front of you, you can see how mindless some of those worries might be.” Dr Hazel Wallace, junior doctor and wellness expert
5. Try an anxiety-reducing gym class
“David Lloyd’s new 30-minute ‘Blissmas’ mindfulness classes encourage you to leave all thoughts of shopping and present-wrapping at the door and focus on yourself. They include breathing techniques to slow your busy mind, positive affirmations and relaxing yoga poses.” Marie Graham, group exercise manager at David Lloyd
6. Avoid the perfection pitfall
“Stress is the gap between expectations and reality. If you’re trying to create the perfect Christmas, you could be setting yourself up for stress rather than satisfaction. While it’s fine to have a vision driving your Christmas plans, hold that vision lightly. Sometimes just letting things happen is the key.” Susan Pearse, leadership coach
7. Go slow with cooking
“To keep Christmas cooking as fuss-free as possible, cook low and slow and do lots of prep in advance, such as your bread and cranberry sauces, gravies, stuffings and pudding!” Gizzi Erskine, chef and food writer
8. Take time to escape
“Remember to take little moments to chill and recharge. How can you enjoy yourself properly if you’re always exhausted? I’m a big fan of scheduling; if it’s not scheduled in, it often doesn’t end up happening. So with that in mind, schedule in some quiet time for yourself; a run, mindful walk or a hot bath are great ideas, to make sure and resting.” Chloe Brotheridge, author and anxiety expert
9. Pause to remember
“The Christmas season can be especially difficult for those who have Make space for your grief, take all the time you need, and let people know how you feel – they will understand. If you need further support, remember that the Samaritans are there to listen even at Christmas.” Dr Chloe Paidoussis-Mitchell, psychologist
10. Always eat before going out
“Filling up on mood-boosting healthy fats and proteins before you go out to a Christmas party can be a great way of keeping things in check and making sure you’re not ravenous when you arrive. Try boiled eggs, salmon fillets or avocado.” Max Lowery, personal trainer
Is stress taking over? Read our guide to spotting the signs of long-term stress.