Thursday, 11 December 2014

How to beat stress

12 tips for remaining calm this Christmas

Written by Dr Sarah Brewer
1) Take control of Christmas so it doesn’t take control of you. Buy presents early rather than leaving them to the last minute. Set a budget and stick to it.

2)  Make a to-do list at the end of each day ready for tomorrow. Prioritise tasks so you deal with them one at a time. Recognise the difference between things you MUST do, things you’d LIKE to do, and things you NEED NOT do.

3) If it all becomes too much, take a traditional herbal medicine to help relieve anxiety and stress. Those containing valerian are particularly effective, and can also help you sleep, such as Potter’s Herbals NewRelax tablets containing valerian, hops, skullcap and vervain.

4) Prepare and freeze meals in advance where possible. Consider using good-quality, ready-prepared meals so all the hard-work is done for you. The extra cost, offset against your time and stress levels may be worth the investment.

5) Delegate! Delegation frees up your time and stress load by donating an activity to someone else who is equally capable - even if you think you can do it better yourself. Encourage the kids to wrap presents, find someone to peel the veggies (while watching TV if necessary!)

6) If, despite all the pre-planning, you feel stress rising, stop what you are doing and inwardly say ‘Calm’ to yourself. Take a deep breath in and let it out slowly, concentrating on the way your diaphragm moves. Do this two or three times until you feel more in control.

7) If you are sitting, stand up and gently stretch to your fullest possible extent. Shake your hands and arms briskly, then shrug your shoulders.

8) Go for a brisk walk, even if it’s only around the room to help get your circulation going and to burn off the negative effects of stress hormones.

9) Go somewhere private and groan or shout as loudly as you can. This is very therapeutic. Some people find it helpful to punch a soft cushion as hard as possible.

10) Watch a comedy or visit a website specialising in corny jokes - laughter is a wonderful antidote to stress.

11) Avoid using words that exaggerate events. Make molehills out of mountains, rather than the other way round. Instead of ‘terrible weather’ say ‘inconvenient weather’; instead of ‘dreadful’ say ‘annoying’; for ‘awful’ try ‘unfortunate’; in place of ‘I have to…’ use ‘I would like to’; and instead of  ‘I must’, say ‘I intend to…’

12) Learn to say no. How often do you say ‘Yes’ and wish you hadn’t? The easiest way to say ‘No’ and avoid being overloaded with tasks is, in fact, not to use the word at all. Instead, say ‘I am unable to..’ or ‘I am unwilling to…’. Practice these phrases aloud until they feel comfortable. You are not rejecting the person, only their request.  If it makes you feel better, say ‘… but thank you for asking’ as you turn them down.

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