How To Keep Stress Under Control This Christmas

How To Keep Stress Under Control This Christmas

The festive season can be stressful at the best of times – throw in further uncertainty around the pandemic and things quickly move up a gear. For a bit of help over the coming weeks, we spoke to some of the industry’s mental health and wellness professionals.

Savour Routine

“Uncertainty, for many of us, provokes feelings of anxiety. When there is a huge amount of uncertainty in the press, think about what part of your routine – one that supports your sense of mental, emotional or physical wellbeing – you can prioritise over the Christmas period. Holidays often disrupt our rhythm, but if a routine is something that makes you feel grounded and secure, it can be helpful to choose a couple of things to stick to religiously during the festivities – be it getting up at the same time every day or working out every other.” – Anna Mathur, psychotherapist & bestselling author

Use Your Breath

“Breathing can have such a profound impact on how we feel. Proper breathing doesn’t require anything fancy – just breathe naturally and expansively. If you want to get more technical, try to move the breath down to your abdomen. Try to breathe in for a count of six, then out for six. Just one breath is enough to create change, but if you can stick with it for one minute, this will re-pattern how your heart functions and bring your system into alignment.” – Suzy Reading, chartered psychologist 

Get Outside

“While we naturally seek cosy comfort in the winter months, for me, movement is essential for my mood and energy. I always have a daily morning walk – just 20 minutes of gentle walking, ideally in a place of natural beauty. Remind yourself that the cold can be invigorating, while a dose of daylight will help regulate the circadian rhythm, which in turn will help you feel more alert during the day and naturally sleepier at night.” – Suzy 

Studies have long shown that reading is good for calming the mind. Even as little as six minutes can slow down your heart rate

Reassess Traditions

“If you feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the last couple of years, you’re certainly not alone. Feelings of burnout are rife, and Christmas is so often a pinch point for stress. What corners can you cut to buy yourself some time on the sofa, or a slower day? Perhaps you buy a ready-made Christmas lunch or opt to donate to charity rather than sending Christmas cards. Traditions are only worth keeping if they bring you enjoyment and add to the festivities. As I always say to my clients, these changes can also just be for now, not forever.” – Anna 

Show Gratitude

“Studies show those who practise gratitude have quieter, calmer brains, feel less stressed and have a lower heart rate. It’s a great alternative if you feel intimidated by the idea of meditation as it’s a more active way to be mindful. It’s so easy to feel like we need everything to be perfect at Christmas but try to refocus this energy on the positives by writing down a few things you are grateful for each morning. Doing this throughout the festive period and at the start of January will minimise your perfectionism, boost mental health and increase feelings of wellbeing.” – Laura Dodd, yoga & meditation teacher

Move Your Body To Look After Your Mind

“If you’re a cardio junkie, consider doing something slower-paced to nourish the nervous system. Just 30 minutes of yoga or Pilates will tap into your parasympathetic nervous system, which will return your body to a more relaxed baseline state to better cope with stress. Remember, exercise is just as important for your mind as it is for your heart. Slower-paced forms of exercise can help balance cortisol (i.e. stress) levels while also stimulating the release of mood-elevating endorphins.” – Laura

Settle Down With A Book

“I find it incredibly hard to switch off in the evening. However, I recently discovered Audible, which has been a game-changer. Listening to an audiobook helps switch my brain from stress mode to a complete state of relaxation. Studies have long shown that reading is good for calming the mind. Even as little as six minutes can slow down your heart rate. Psychologists believe that reading forces the mind to concentrate while the distraction of being taken into a literary world helps to reduce tension in the muscles and heart. According to neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, it can help reduce stress levels by as much as 68%.” – Kathryn Danzey, founder of Rejuvenated

Slower-paced forms of exercise can help balance cortisol levels while also stimulating the release of mood-elevating endorphins.

Make A Mantra

“Having a mantra may sound out a bit out there, but it can be a powerful way to calm the nervous system. ‘Peace comes from within, do not seek it without’ is one I use on hectic days. The Christmas period is busy at the best of times – throw in the current situation and if you start to think too deeply about the state of the world, it can bring on a huge amount of anxiety. Choose any words that resonate with you – it can be a single word or entire sentence – and have them to hand when you’re feeling anxious. Repeat them in your mind or out loud until you feel calmer.” – Kati Treble, founder of Kati Kaia

Try Starfish Breathing

“This simple technique guarantees instant calm in just 30 seconds. Don’t underestimate the power of deep breathing – when we breathe deeply, it shifts your body from a stressed state to a state of rest. Start by spreading your fingers out like a starfish, and using your index finger, trace up and down each of your fingers. As you trace up, breathe in, and when you get to the top of your finger, pause and hold your breath for a moment. Then as you breathe out, trace back down the finger. Repeat this breathing with each finger on both hands.” – Louise Barton, health coach & mindfulness practitioner

Try Tapping

“After a long day, I rely on tapping, an acupressure technique used to relieve stress and anxiety. Like an active form of meditation, tapping uses both words and touch. By tapping on specific acupressure points, you send a calming signal to the brain, letting it know it’s safe for you to relax. Tapping stops your brain from throwing you into the ‘fight or flight’ stress mode and brings your energy back into balance.” – Aysha Bell, meditation & yoga teacher

Experiment With Nootropics

“Taking a supplement for stress support can be hugely helpful. Many of us are in the mentality of waiting until the New Year to start new healthy habits, but taking the right formula when you need it most will ensure you don't experience the same level of stress you would without additional support. Artah’s Enhanced Nootropics is my go-to – it blends ashwagandha with magnesium, B vitamins and other phytonutrients that help the body cope with stress.” – Rhian Stephenson, founder of Artah 

For more information, visit,,,,, and Anna recently launched an online course to help support mental health during the festive period, called How to Have a Merry Imperfect Christmas, which is available to buy now.

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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