Stress affects all whether it’s derived from work-related issues, family worries or anything in-between. And as much as the Christmas period is fun, it can bring with it added stress. Here, hypnotherapist, nutritionist and anxiety expert, Chloe Brotheridge talks us through eight practical ways to feel less stressed this festive season.
Turn off 'alerts' on your phone
Sure, the beep and buzz of your mobile as a new tweet or Instagram follower comes in might be keeping you bang up to date - but it could also be adding to your stress. Not only does constantly checking your phone distract your attention – meaning you'll waste time getting refocused back onto a task – but being at the beck and call of your mobile can mean that you are on high alert. Having something constantly vying to get your attention can leave you feeling harried and increase levels of adrenaline and cortisol. To turn them off, head to 'notifications' then switch off alerts. That way you're in control of when you look at your phone.
If your life is all work and no play it makes stress much harder to handle. What do you love to do? What lights you up? Or better yet, what makes you feel like you're ten years old again?! Life gets so busy that play gets put off for times when we've got less going on. But that day may never come, so you've got to make it happen. When you're planning your week, schedule some fun things in; going dancing, riding your bike, playing a musical instrument or joining a choir or getting out the paints to do something creative.
We all have the same 24 hours as Beyonce. That lady gets a lot of stuff done, but she's not doing everything. Think hard about what's most important to you and what gives you the most back in terms of happiness and fulfilment. If you've been doing too much, remember that you can't do everything; prioritise what's most important and say no to the rest.
Learn to Relax
So many people that I speak to tell me they don't or can't relax. But being able to relax yourself is a skill that we can all develop. Practise relaxation by listening to a guided meditation or hypnotherapy track (I have a free one available at Calmer-You.com) or do a body scan. Scan through your body and consciously relax each body part one at a time, starting with your feet and moving up to your head and face.
On a Similar Note
When we're stressed we tend to take shallow breaths, but when we breathe deeply we send a message to the nervous system to relax. Start by placing your hands on your belly and as you breathe in imagine your belly expanding like a balloon. As you breathe out allow the balloon to deflate. Do this whenever you need to calm and centre yourself.
One thing at a time
If your never ending to-do list is overwhelming you – create two lists. One list has all the tasks you need to do that day and the other just has one thing on it – the task that you're doing right now. That way, you can stay focused on that one thing. It's a reminder that we only ever have one thing that we need to do; whatever we're doing in the moment.
This has to be one of the greatest antidotes to stress. If you can remember your sense of humour, even when things are going tits up, it can provide some instant relief and remind you that nothing is ever really that bad. Check out the funnies on Facebook – cat videos never fail to bring me a chuckle – or call a friend for a giggle or text them some comedy gifs to bring a smile to your face.
Also known as Switch Off Sunday. It's only when we leave our phone at home that we realise how much calmer and more free we feel without it. Try it as an experiment and see if it helps you. Keep Sunday just for quality time with your loved ones; leave your phone off and switch off the WIFI. Unplugging and having a mini digital detox can help you to feel more free and connected to the people around you. Plus you won't be tempted to check your work emails.