Have yourself a 'low stress' Christmas

Calodagh McCumiskey - Wellbeing & MeditationBray People

While Christmas is known as "the season to be jolly," it can be very stressful too. It seems to amplify whatever is happening deep within - people who are happy feel even happier.

People with depression and anxiety experience spikes. People with financial problems are under even more strain. We put a lot of pressure on our bodies with overindulgence. Research shows an increase in heart attacks and heart related deaths around this time of year. For some it is their favorite time of year and for others it is lonely and sad. If you are recently bereaved or struggling with anything - financial, emotional etc, it can be a time where you feel even more lost and overwhelmed.

With a bit of planning, we can avoid some of the stress spikes we might otherwise experience. Here are 5 things you can do to make Christmas less stressful and more enjoyable.

1. Manage your spending

Financial pressures are a leading cause of stress during the festive season. Money is top of the list for what we worry about in Ireland. Christmas is the busiest shopping period of the year. Avoid overspending by having and sticking to a budget. Firstly, make sure your usual expenses are covered and plan other expenses for events you are going to or hosting. After everything is covered, the balance is available for gifts.

If you are under pressure financially, remember-the biggest gift you can give anyone is your presence - to be really there with them and for them. When asked the best gifts they have ever received, most people remember ones that were thoughtful over ones that cost a lot of money.

If under pressure, find lower cost ways of socializing and avoid or minimize temptation so you do not put too much pressure on yourself and start 2020 off in a minus.

2. Manage expectations

We all have an expectation of how Christmas should be. Gifting is only one part of it. Prepare your children and family members to be realistic. Minimize expenses and pressures by setting limits and defining what is important. Spread the workload. Don't take on too much. Don't let gifting or doing everything perfectly overshadow what is really important for you. For most of us, that is enjoying quality time with family and friends, chilling a bit and regrouping after the year and preparing for 2020. Anticipate what you want most from it and work according to that.

3. Exercise and spend time outdoors

A bit of over indulgence is good but don't put yourself under too much pressure. Stress increases our appetite and cravings for sugar and fatty food. Too much alcohol can further exacerbate stress by raising the levels of cortisol in the body. A bit of exercise and spending time outside during day light can really help with bringing your system back to balance and boosting your mood and endorphins. And, make sure you get enough rest and sleep.

4. Laugh and have fun

They say that laugher is the best medicine. It lightens your mood, stimulates your heart, boosts circulation and relaxation and releases endorphins. Whether watching movies, playing games or having fun with friends, bring maximum laughter into your Christmas season.

5. Reach out to others

Giving and connecting warms the heart. Have a thought for others particularly those less fortunate. Remembering those that help us is important too. Both bring us into the true spirit of the season which is about sharing, caring and spreading good will and Christmas cheer.

Wishing you and yours a great one!