Wednesday, 2 December 2015

5 Ways to Keep Calm this Christmas

Christmas stress, health
Is Xmas getting on top of you?
Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net/stockimages
It's December and from here on in, it's non-stop Christmas jumpers, shopping, fairs, drinks, nibbles, plays and parties. I even got my very first Xmas card delivered this morning! Don't get me wrong - I love the season - and have already popped up the tree, donned my tasteless jumper and baked mince pies - but it's also the time when the stresses and strains of being a mummy can become too much. Here are some top tips to make sure you don't go Christmas crackers (see what I did there?)!

1. Inhale the good stuff


If you're stressed it's likely your breathing will be shallow. However, deliberately controlling your breath can help you calm down - and trigger the same physiological responses that actually being relaxed would bring. When you breath deeply through your nose in a slow, even and gentle way your brain will receive messages to calm down and relax. This will in turn lower blood pressure, heart rate, the amount of stress hormones in the blood, balance your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels and improve your immune system functions. The Mental Health Foundation have a podcast to help you with breahing exercises here.

2. Get crafty


Christmas craft, parenting
Keep the kids busy - and mummy stress-free
Christmas is all about the kids right? Which is probably why they are so absolutely super excited and hyper! But if you have things to do, answering tricky questions about Santa's flying reindeer and listening to impromptu performances of 'Away in a Manger' every five minutes can be really demanding. Why not stock up on some easy peasy craft items that the kids can really get stuck in to while you get on with...well Christmas! Perfect for the school holidays when they are at a loose end, and you are at your wit's end, Yellow Moon has everything from snow globes and tree decorations, to kits to make stockings, sleighs and even Christmas-themed foam glasses!

3. Use your sense of smell


In our brains, the olfactory bulb, which helps us process smells, nestles close by the amygdala and hippocampus, the regions that control emotion and memory. For this reason a scent can take us back to a treasured time - and help relax or invigorate us. Why not invest in a decent diffuser and some essential oils to harness the power of aromatherapy? Neal's Yard offer oil blends including Calming, Woman's Balance and Focus. As an added bonus your home will smell lovely all over the holidays - making your guests feel welcome - and relaxed.

4. Run away from it all


Think you are on your last legs? Then why not go for a run? Exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and triggers the release of endorphins. In fact you could say working out is the cheapest, most natural antidepressant there is! Joining in a group activity - and meeting people as you work out - can also alleviate anxiety and depression by encouraging social interaction. And regular exercise is also known to improve sleep quality. Winner, winner, turkey dinner!

5. Step outside


Connecting with nature can be a powerful stress-reliever - with research showing lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in those surrounded by green space. In fact 'Ecotherapy' is a discipline within it's own right, with a whole range of programmes that aim to improve mental health through outdoor activities. It's been shown that exposure to natural light can increase levels of the mood-lifting chemical serotonin - and that focussing on the space, colours and fresh air can help you disengage from the multitude of worries whizzing around your brain. In fact a walk with the kids will help them let off some steam and is the pick-me-up when you're feeling burnt out.

Do you have other ways to keep you calm over Christmas? Share them below - and help another mummy stay happy and healthy!

9 comments:

  1. Interestingly enough, the holidays/XMAS calm me down! I take a break from work and just chill!

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    1. Sounds like you have the right idea!!! Is work the only area you find stressful? You must be very relaxed - what's your secret?

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  2. Great tips, I think stepping outside can help massively. I love going for walks when I'm stressed, it always helps me clear my head. :)

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    1. I find it even works for my kids actually. They moan a bit beforehand but then they get on a decent walk and love it.

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  3. Fab tips, I especially like you advice to embrace it all :) I have been debating taking up jogging and I think I need to bite the bullet and do it! Thanks for linking up to #memyselfandI

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  4. I find the build-up to Christmas hard! Think I suffer from SAD right at the time when I am missing out on sleep from too many parties and trying to organise Christmas! This year I am determined not to wear myself out which means saying no to some things and making sure I eat well (lots of water & vitamins after a night out!) Fingers crossed, I am getting through it and will enjoy the holidays!

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  5. Great tips! I definitely find a good run helps clear my head from all the festive madness. Thanks for joining up with #memyselfandi and I look forward to reading more posts

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