5 WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS THIS CHRISTMAS...

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I LOVE Christmas, I’m basically an elf!

Big claim I know but there’s something magical, even as an adult, about December, Christmas and all the fanfare.

I come from a super small family, but my parents made up for it with the most awesome, magical Christmases. I know most families have rituals and things they get the kids to do on the run up to the big day but my mum and dad were great at this; there were trails and maps and games to find our presents around the house, these got more elaborate every year and I’m quite sure it’s because my dad got a chance to legit be a child for a couple of days! It was so believable and awesome that my brother still believed in Santa when he went to High School, much to our amusement (sorry Michael).

Even into adulthood, and with no ‘children’ in the family yet, I’ve kept this up. I tend to get a little bit crazy, hopped up on snow and the smell of mulled wine…but I know how stressful this can make this period!

Therefore, I’ve come up with a fool proof guide to staying stress-free at Christmas…

1.       Ask people for Christmas lists

As adults we sometimes feel weird writing a list of things we want others to spend their money on for us, however think of how much easier it is knowing you’ve bought something that someone is really going to use. I’m the queen of not being able to hide when I receive a gift I know is going straight to the charity shop in January; my mum calls it the ‘what were you thinking face’. I’m all about gratitude but I bet if you’re honest there aren’t many people who know how to buy you a pretty perfect gift! ‘It’s the thought that counts’ isn’t a line that washes well with me so don’t be shy…

 

2.       Do a family Secret Santa

If you’re a little strapped for cash this year, why not take this approach? It’s a great way of treating your loved ones without spending a fortune on every single person. It’s an extra bit of fun on Christmas day and I can guarantee you’ll end up with something you LOVE because, if you’re anything like our lot, nobody can actually keep it a secret and they’ll seek outside help!

 

3.       Soak it all up…

Stop for a moment in amongst the chaos and notice everything. We spend all this time driving to and from shops and houses and work and I bet not many of you slow down as you drive past houses and notice the décor. How many of you take a moment to notice the way the light changes in the evenings as the sun goes down on days when it’s extra clear and cold; it’s beautiful. Try to slow down as much as possible during this period and just taking the time to notice even the smallest things will make you feel calmer inside. (see my own tradition below)

 

4.       Get outdoors!

There’s nothing better on Christmas morning than going for a walk whilst the food is cooking. Wrap up, get outside and take a few deep breaths. Just make sure to have your Bucks Fizz after this or the alcohol will hit you a little too quickly!

 

5.       Drink more water and MOVE

Sounds ridiculous I know but when we’re out of routine we tend to forget the most basic of things and with all the food and drink to digest the extra water is needed so stay hydrated!

I also know it can feel great to have a guilt free day binge watching all the Christmas movies on Netflix but why not do a few basic stretches between movies; get up and move your body, it doesn’t have to be much and it doesn’t have to be pretty but if you don’t you’ll be working to unfurl a sofa shaped spine when you get back on the mat.

Feel free to add your own advice in the comments below, I’d love to know how you manage stress over the festive period.

Now I’m going to tell you about my own Christmas tradition…keep this to yourself, it’s my favourite thing about Christmas…

Every Christmas Eve I head to a city; Preston, Liverpool, Manchester, at about 3pm and I wander around the shops, I go for a mulled wine somewhere outdoors, I generally treat myself to something and I take EVERYTHING in. I find it super peaceful, and I can be a little smug knowing that all my shopping is done, I’ve finished work for a couple of days and I can relax and enjoy it.

Why do I do this?

Christmas Eve in any large city is the same every year, it brings me an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. I’m a dedicated people watcher, I mean if they had jobs for this stuff I would excel, I love it and there’s no better time than Christmas Eve…

…there’re the kids that are so excited they could literally burst

…there’s the couple in John Lewis arguing about the napkin holders they really don’t need but are going to buy anyway

…there’s the bloke sauntering down the road swinging the same Boots and Pandora bags as last year

and finally, the best bit…

…there’re the shop assistants who look like they’re about to implode in a ball of stress if one more person asks them what time the Boxing Day sale starts!

It’s the making of a Sitcom and in amongst it all there I am wrapped up all cosy with a Starbucks mug in hand smiling at everyone I see. That’s my version of Christmas cheer and I’ll keep it going for as long as I can!

Have a great Christmas and share your own traditions below…