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How to keep calm at Christmas

Christmas is not a happy festive time of year for everyone. Christmas is a busy time maybe you are dashing around with a to-do list as long as your arm. There are gifts to buy, money worries, the works Christmas do, food to buy and prepare, eating too much food, drinking too much alcohol, over-committing with social engagements, ridiculously tight deadlines at work, trying to get everything finished on time


We are all unique characters with our own ideas of how celebrations should be conducted and there can be tension or dis-ease in spending more time with our loved ones than we normally do.


Witnessing the jolliness of Christmas all around us may actually cause some people hurt or pain. They might be dreading the season of family and togetherness because they do not have their loved ones around them, through the sadness of bereavement or because of a marital separation or divorce.


Let’s not forget and in particular for 2021 due to the Pandemic that it’s an unsettling time of year when you may be feeling anxious about visiting and hosting families and friends. Becoming unwell or fear your loved ones getting sick. Covid Anxiety has become a thing!

So yes, Christmas is not always for some a time of happiness and cheer. There are times when nerves can be frayed by feelings of stress and the body responds accordingly.

STRESS AND ANXIETY AT CHRISTMAS

Our body when under stress goes into Flight or Fight mode. This response is an automatic response and it’s known as the sympathetic nervous system.

Some signs to indicate if you are feeling the effects of stress are

· quick or shallow breathing

· increased heart rate

· dilated pupils

· quick & jerky movements

· tension in the muscles of the arms, shoulders or legs

· nausea or tummy upset


You may have noticed that during times of worry or anxiety, you feel nauseous or the need to go to the toilet. The body is trying to eliminate any food or water in the digestive tract that requires processing. You may have noticed that during times of stress or worry you don’t much feel like having sex or physical contact. The body is directing all its energies away from body systems and processes that aren’t essential to dealing with the immediate danger. The digestive and reproductive systems are not key to keeping you safe during a tiger attack.

This is normal.


But if we don’t get rid of the stress hormones, this can be damaging not only for our emotional and mental wellbeing, but also for our physical health because they are inflammatory and can contribute to or cause autoimmune disease, menstrual or fertility problems, anxiety and depression.

The perfect remedy for us is in the form of the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest element.

In this mode the body can concentrate on replenishing and recuperating. The muscles become relaxed and digestive system goes back to full steam to make sure the body is properly nourished.

you’re probably in rest & digest if you notice the following

· steady heart rate

· a lightness in the body

· slow or deep breathing

· relaxed muscles

· normal appetite and digestion (normal for you)

· being more in touch with physical sensations of the body


AN amazing tool you can use to induce and go into the Parasympathetic nervous system is………


Your breath is key to your relaxation.

Yes it’s that simple…….

no-one taught us how to breathe. It is a function that happens automatically, outside of our control, within the autonomic nervous system. When we need more oxygen, we breathe in when we have too much carbon dioxide, we breathe out.

However, we also have the ability to choose or control how we breathe. In yoga we know this as pranayama and in my yoga classes we practice this. Prana means life force, yama means control. And in yogic terms, this is a pretty big deal. Pranayama has equal importance as the physical yoga poses within the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

When you are relaxed, the breath is naturally deeper. Consciously taking a deep breath is a way to trigger a relaxation response in your body.


How can you prevent stress from overtaking at Christmas?

For some, this religious festival has become synonymous with over-indulgence. But self-care is not indulgent and it is not selfish.


Here are some of my tips for making sure that you take care of you


TAKE YOUR TIME

Don’t over commit to social engagements and pre-Christmas visits. If it’s an event that you’re invited to attend that doesn’t create a sense of joy for you, do you really have to go?

Time invested into yourself will reap benefits for your emotional, mental and physical health. If could be something short, like a couple of minutes meditation or a few deep breaths. Take the time to sit with your favourite book and a cup of tea, roll out your mat for a short Yoga practice , wrap up for winter walk to get yourself out in to nature.


KINDNESS

You can be sure that if you are feeling pressure, others will be as well. What we can do is approach people, ourselves included, with empathy and kindness. What we can sometimes forget is the fact that acting with kindness to others also has hugely positive benefits on our own physical and emotional health.


YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. BUT NOT EVERYTHING

perfectionism….everything must be perfect! . Please take this from someone who has always had a tendency to being a perfectionist! Yes, things have mostly turned out how I’ve wanted them too, but normally at the cost of my inner peace I’m gradually letting go of this, but I can tell you I get it. It’s ok to not be ok, it’s ok if something is not perfect. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. remember that!


ALL ALONE AT CHRISTMAS?

If a quieter Christmas is on the cards for you Decide what elements are within your control; maybe you can really make a meal out of it. Do you like to take a walk on Christmas morning? Do it!.

But whatever it is that will bring you a period of joy, take it!


LASTLY….Remember this…..

YOU ARE LOVED YOU ARE SPECIAL YOU ARE ENOUGH


Love and Light

Bex





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