Health and wellbeing | 14.12.2017

5 ways to stress less and smile more at Christmas


It’s that time of year when there’s palpable excitement in the air. School is finished and many of us are planning to have some time off work. The not so fun side – juggling expectations, lack of time, excessive spending and dealing with family dynamics.  

All the above can create feelings of stress and overwhelm, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve left shopping until the very last minute. One mate of mine is adamant he's avoiding the whole palaver this year and has bought a ticket on a cruise to Hawaii. He told his family he’d won it. Aloha, ha ha!

Research shows that stress isn’t good for anyone. It’s a perceived threat that can affect our mood, behaviours thoughts and feelings and lead to more serious health-related issues. It’s not surprising statistics show there’s an increase in heart related issues and deaths over the Christmas holiday period. Drinking more and consuming unhealthy foods certainly add to the burden.

Here are five practical stress busting tips to help you put the merry back into the season of good tidings and make happy memories instead. 

1. budget

Most of us feel stressed about the bucks from time to time. The cost of living has increased and wages haven’t really changed. Buying gifts, travel and entertainment add to financial burden. Unless you think you’re getting a hefty bonus from the boss (the one you didn’t pash at the Xmas partae), then you may need to limit your spending and stick to a budget.  

Secret Santa or gift exchange is a good way for everyone to receive a gift without blowing the budget. We do this for our work Xmas party. Why not do it with family too? You choose a spending amount – say $25, then place everyone’s names on a piece of paper and put it in a hat. The organiser draws names randomly and assigns each person on the list with a Secret Santa. You can email, text or call the other "players” to let them know who they are buying for. You can also have everyone write down a wish list of gifts they would prefer to receive. Other than the organiser (who keeps the master list) no one knows who they are receiving the gift from and they must guess who the giver was.  

If you’re heading away, you’ve likely paid in advance for accommodation but it is still wise not to go into further debt. Plan for spending and set a daily limit, especially if you are travelling. Only keep cash on you and leave your cards at home. Avoid getting lured in by Boxing Day sales and spontaneous spending. Ask yourself if you really need it or is it just a want? If you’re buying clothes then employ the 5-second rule. If you don’t love it instantaneously (you don’t need anyone else’s opinion) it’s a NO. Just walk away…. 

Recognise how you deal with financial stress. If it leads to behavioural changes like excess eating, drinking, smoking and gambling, this can lead to further stress and arguments with partners and family members. Seek help in advance if you are aware of any previous patterns. 

2. Prepare for the unexpected 

Being with loved ones as well as the gift of giving and receiving without expectation is what’s important. We all have a vision of the perfect Xmas day or holiday, but prepare for things to not always run according to plan. Think about creating loving memories rather than drama. Go with the flow and be flexible. If you know Uncle Hank's going to be his usual obnoxious self, then avoid him. If you’re stuck in traffic on your way to an event and don’t have an army tank or you've dribbled eggnog down the front of your favourite dress, observe yourself getting uptight and frustrated and ask if it warrants wasting energy?

Simply remember to reset. Stop and breath and come back to the present. Say a little mantra or prayer. A solid daily meditation or relaxation practice comes into play in moments like this. The one I tend to use in times of stress and overwhelm is Om Mani Padme Hum. It helps to purify the body, speech, heart and mind and alleviate and transcend suffering.

3. Keep Kids in Check 

Presents don’t equate to love or make up for lost time during the year. Kick regrets in the butt. Ask your children to make a list of gifts that they would like then stick to what is realistic, affordable and practical.

Turn off and shut down all the screens. Have a digital fast. Spend time doing joyous bonding and creative activities with your children. Create good times – go to the beach, bake some cookies or a cake, tell stories, play board games, draw, paint, climb a tree, make a cubby house, sing a song, make up a silly dance.

4.  Make time for you

Focus on recharging your batteries. Get a massage, read a book, listen to music that make you feel uplifted, happy and energised. Go for a nature walk or through a beautiful park or garden. Research shows that physical activity reorganises the neurons in the brain to reduce our response to stress. It can also boost endorphins, stabilise your mood and help you sleep better. Better yet, indulge in a home spa and treat your body to a whole plethora of organic skin care products filled to the brim with stress busting essential oils that will soothe both body and soul.

5. Laugh it off

A good belly guffaw and giggle helps to lighten the mood and activates T-cells that increase immunity. Studies have shown a good session of laughter creates an increase in appetite and a similar response to moderate exercise. The level of leptin decreases as the levels of ghrelin increase. It stimulates the heart and lung muscles, boosts circulation, aids in relaxation and releases endorphins.

Think of some funny situations and pranks, dress up in silly outfits and do a photoshoot, retell some dad jokes or watch a favourite comedy that the whole family can enjoy. I highly recommend laughercise. I love doing it in public when I am with a group of friends. You just start laughing and even if it feels fake, keep going. It becomes completely infectious and other people will join in. They will have no idea what they are laughing about, which makes it even funnier. I love doing this in the city. No joke – I have managed to get a whole block laughing their heads off. Ha, ha, ha and ho, ho, ho.

Thank you all for a wonderful year. Keep buying organic and cruelty free vegan skin care products. It’s the best present you can give to yourself, your loved ones and the planet. I wish you all a heartfelt Christmas filled with all the love and happiness you deserve. 

And if you still haven't done your shopping, head on over to the website to buy a gift voucher or some great gift ideas. We'll gift wrap and express ship today.

We’d love to know what stress busting techniques you engage in? Share your ideas here. The best answer is in the running to receive $150 worth of products of your choosing. A winner will be announced after Xmas.


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