Wait! What! Stop! …. It is not Christmas yet!!
I hear you cry, and yes I am aware that we have more than a month to go, but as this can be a stressful time of year for some people I wanted to share a few tips prior to the commencement of the ‘silly season’, to give you the best chance of putting them into practice.
When you are feeling stressed negative thoughts will run through your mind, and stressful feelings will run through your body. Both are telling you that something is not right. Sometimes you may not be aware you are actually stressed because these thoughts and feelings may have become your norm, but simply put your bodies stress response is alerting you to the fact that you are not comfortable or ok about one or several things that are happening in your life. Noticing and understanding how you experience stress can make a big difference to how you support yourself during stressful times and also how you can make changes to help reduce the impact stress has on your mind and body.
First of all it is important to identify what is causing you to feel stressed and there in often lies the problem at Christmas time, the stressor thing might be having to spend time with family members who you avoid, or manage in small doses at other times of the year, but at Christmas there may be pressure to bury the hurt and pretend that all is okay. If we take a brief look at this from the perspective of stress then the stressor might be in a particular relationship that has in the past been damaging or hurtful and your mind and body are alerting you by activating your stress response. Perhaps you can’t avoid spending time with this particular family member on Christmas day, but by putting a few strategies in place to manage your stress levels you may be able to make a hard situation more bearable or change it altogether.
On the other hand feelings of isolation and loneliness can be stressors at Christmas time, perhaps because you are estranged from your family or you live far away from them. Another Christmas stressor can be monetary due to internal or external pressures to provide in abundance whether through gifts or lavish foods.
Whether your stressors are felt at Christmas time or other times of the year here are four strategies you can incorporate into your life to create an almost immediate sense of relief:
- Give yourself permission to step away from the stressor. This helps to give you some distance and perspective; this will help while you make some informed choices about how to best support yourself.
- Connection – we are ultimately hard wired to connect so finding people to talk to particularly when things are stressful is important. Please consider who you talk to, as it is necessary to feel safe and supported. In other words don’t talk to someone who makes you feel more stressed.
- Planning – when we are stressed we don’t always make the best decisions this is because the part of the brain used for this skill doesn’t operate very well when we are stressed. Plan the run up to Christmas or the day itself to make it work better for you this year. Create a daily or weekly routine that incorporates really really good self-care.
- Exercise – this shows up in almost all areas of research around mind health and wellbeing. Regularity is important as the consistency helps your body balance stress hormones with the release of feel good hormones. It is however important not to overdo certain types of exercise if you are feeling ‘wired’ and stressed.
Join us for a yoga session in the Stress Less Workshop (details given at the end of this article) and find out more information on the type of exercise that is best suited to you during stressful periods.
It is important to note that many of the stressors that occur at Christmas time are due to fractured relationships and I want to highlight that some of these relationship betrayals may have occurred in your childhood, if this is the case then talking to a trained therapist maybe an important step in making sense of situations that weren’t your fault.
Ultimately stressing less creates more space in your mind and body to explore and engage in the things you love doing or make some healthy life changes. Stressing less also allows you to slow down and rest; creating a feedback loop that generates optimal healing and therefore a deeper feeling of wellness. These changes within allow you to connect more meaningfully with your self and therefore others.
Stress Less Workshop
Alex Field (Registered Counsellor) & Stephanie Johnson (Registered Yoga Teacher)
18th November 7pm
2 hour session $50
I am very excited to be co-facilitating with Stephanie, because her passion and experience as a yoga teacher is felt by all (including me!) who have the pleasure of attending her classes.
Stephanie will guide you through a specific yoga class that focuses on body awareness and initiating the relaxation response. You will learn poses that you can implement and do at home.
I will introduce you to how the mind and body respond to stress by sharing the latest evidence based research in a user friendly way.
This nurturing workshop is designed to help you notice and make sense of some of the ways you maybe experiencing stress in your lives and how to lesson these stressors by balancing your mind and body.
There will be a maximum of 12 people in this workshop so book early to avoid disappointment.
What shall I talk about next? Anger or Self-Esteem let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (all responses will be confidential, but I would love to write about what you are interested in!)