By Geraldine Joaquim
Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. We all have an idea of what makes our ideal Christmas. We spend time making delicious food to share, as well as creating a welcoming and festive setting, and not forgetting injecting ‘magic’ for the children. All that effort for one special day.
We also add to the physical stress of Christmas by worrying about how it will go. Anxiety is created by negative thinking; it’s not necessarily the actual event that causes the perception of a crisis happening but rather our own thought patterns. As part of our human survival mechanism we are predisposed to negatively forecast. This helped keep our ancestors alive, but Christmas is really not a life or death situation, however stressful it may seem! The primitive part of our brain, the part that is concerned with our survival, can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality, so every time we negatively forecast (or negatively ruminate on the past), it releases the same stress hormones as if we are going through a real event, ratcheting up the anxiety levels so that by the time we get to Christmas Day we feel ready to drop.
So how do we stop the stress surrounding Christmas and actually get back to enjoying it?
- Remember, no one wants you to fail. If you’ve gone to the trouble of hosting your Christmas Day, do bear in mind that your guests are on your side, and that also means it really doesn’t matter if things go wrong.
- It’s a shared responsibility. Give people jobs to do; it involves them in the day and gives you another pair of helping hands.
- Prepare in advance. Aim to be ready the day before the day before, so you’re not working down to the wire.
- Perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be. Focus on the bigger picture rather than the minutiae. Your family will appreciate a less-stressed you far more than they would appreciate seeing the festive yule log you created at midnight on Christmas Eve!
- Practise mindfulness. Being mindful means being present in the moment; it calms the mind. You can practise being mindful in your daily life: when you’re out walking the dog, use that time to notice what’s going on around you. Resist the temptation to let your brain tumble forward to whatever you’ve got to do next. These moments create little oases of calm which makes an overall more relaxed you.
- Don’t over-think it. Instead of thinking about all those things that could go wrong, turn your mind to how great it will be, with images of smiling relatives, laughing children, hugs and kisses. These positive thoughts help to release a hormone called serotonin which is what keeps us on an even keel throughout the day.
- Create your own Christmas perfection. Sit down with your family and ask them what they enjoy about Christmas and how they’d like the day to be.
If you would like to know more about reducing stress or being mindful, contact Quest Hypnotherapy on 01798 344879 or see www.questhypnotherapy.co.uk