1 Keep things in perspective
At Christmas we often put ourselves under a huge amount of
emotional and financial pressure in our quest for perfect
festivities - but try not to expect too much of yourself. Imagine
how unimportant the stress of Christmas preparations will seem in a
couple of months' time - or even in a couple or weeks' time.
2 Do one thing at a time
Make a list of the things that you need to do to prepare for
Christmas. Review it and cross out anything that isn't essential,
then decide which item is the most important. Do that one thing and
ignore everything else on the list for the time being. Then
prioritise the next thing and so on. As you achieve each thing, the
rest of your list will seem easier.
3 Take time out for yourself
Even if it is just 10 minutes, lose yourself in something
unconnected to Christmas - read a few pages of a book, watch part
of a favourite DVD, listen to some music or go for a walk. Or if
you can make more time, treat yourself to a long bath, a massage or
a night out at the cinema.
4 Live in the moment
There's no point dwelling on the past or worrying about the
future. Living in the moment is easier said than done but simple
mindfulness exercises can help to focus your mind on the present.
Find out more at www.bemindful.co.uk
5 Talk about your anxieties
Talking with a friend or relative about the things that are
worrying you can help you to realise that some of them aren't so
important after all, and help you to focus on one or two things
that are at the root of your worry.
6 Don't have a competitive Christmas
If you believe social media, everyone else will be enjoying
merrier, better decorated, more delicious, infinitely better
planned Christmases than you, topped of by the most thoughtful
gifts huge salaries or highly skilled home-crafting can achieve.
Don't be fooled or sucked in. Although it can be fun to swap
festive wishes online, a core driver of social media is the
instinct to show off and out-do others. Don't try to keep up with
the Facebook-Joneses: do your own thing and leave them to compete
on social media.
7 Limit alcohol, eat well and keep active
It can be tempting to turn to alcohol to cope with stress,
loneliness or to keep up the party pace, but alcohol is a
depressant so limit your intake to within safe guidelines and avoid
too much sugary food, which can leave us lethargic and feeling low.
Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit and lean meat, and drink lots of
water in between the occasional festive indulgence. A brisk 20
minute walk will release endorphins, helping you feel relaxed and
happy, as well as boosting your immune system, helping you avoid
8 Help others
Helping others or performing small acts of kindness is great for
our own mental wellbeing. You could listen to a colleague's
Christmas anxieties, do some festive volunteering at a local
charity, take a festive treat to a lonely neighbour, or even tie a
cellophane-wrapped gingerbread on the door knocker of each house in
your street. Try it - you'll feel good!
9 Sleep well
Avoid using smartphones, tablets or laptops before bed as they
disrupt our ability to sleep - try reading a book or magazine
instead - and don't sleep with a television on. Avoid coffee, cola
and energy drinks for a few hours before sleep; caffeine is a
stimulant and can stop us sleeping but recent research shows that
it also resets our body-clock, postponing our sleep and subsequent
wake times. A dark sleeping space is also important - try blackout
blinds - and try a simple relaxation exercise before bed: lie on
your back with your eyes closed, tense all your muscles, then
concentrate on relaxing each part of your body in turn.
The simplest mental wellbeing trick of all. Before sleep or
whenever you feel stress or anxiety building, concentrate for a
minute or so on taking slow, steady, deep breaths, emptying your
lungs as much as possible in between each breath. Breathe in for
four counts and out for six, in through your nose, out through your