- More than 4 out of 10 parents of young children say they are anxious about the end-of-year celebrations (Ipsos/Qare 2022 survey).
- Women are more stressed during the Christmas period than men (39% vs 27%).
Buying gifts, decorating the tree and the house, doing the shopping, preparing a Christmas meal for ten people, avoiding family disputes, multiplying the journeys to see everyone… The end-of-year celebrations take often marathon paces. This long list of tasks to do to “have a good Christmas” stresses more than one, let’s face it.
Anne Weisman, director of the department of integrative medicine and well-being at theuniversity of nevada las vegasoffers 5 techniques to reduce stress, anxiety and burnout that can appear during the festivities.
Breathing exercises to relax
It may seem simple, but it is nevertheless particularly effective. When the anxiety rises in the face of the many tasks that remain to be done before the evening of December 24, it is necessary to take the time to breathe.
“It really is the basis of all techniques. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. A few breaths are enough to calm your nervous system, lower your blood pressure and bring you out of this state of acute anxiety and back into a more stable state”assures the well-being expert.
Breathing exercises help the body come out of its “fight or flight” response that stress causes. “I encourage people to think of a word, energy or intention – breathe in that positive intention and breathe out what you want to get rid of”she adds.
Active meditation to relieve pressure
Gifts not delivered, additional last-minute guests, file to finish before the holidays… If the elements seem to be conspiring against you a few days before the holidays and the pressure is mounting, the expert suggests turning to active meditation. This method consists of linking meditative practice to physical activity.
“Active meditation is so much fun, and it’s especially effective if you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed. It’s as easy as shaking or dancing. The most important thing to think about here is movement, so if you don’t like to dance or move, take a walk if you can”says Anne Weisman.
“It may sound silly in the middle of a work day, but it forces you to move your body and let go for a moment. If you don’t dance, listen to music or go out into nature. Even something as simple as having lunch out can make all the difference”assures the expert.
Mindfulness meditation to focus
Mindfulness meditation is a good way to combat Christmas or New Year’s holiday anxiety. It consists of being attentive to the present moment and to the world around us. “One of my favorite ways to do this is with food. After a slow breath, take a bite and really think about it. During my group exercises, we talk about the food we have selected and the part of the body we are feeding at the moment. Is it our physical body (hunger), our emotional body (feeling), our mental body? Then we imagine where that food came from and all the processes it took to get it to our mouths.”
This technique is “the antithesis of multitasking”, according to the expert: it’s about concentrating on one thing at a time: a welcome break during the busy period of the festivities.
Drawing to free yourself gently
Are you stressed? Feel free to grab a pencil and a sheet of paper and then draw. This playful activity allows you to free yourself in a gentle and exploratory way.
“Start by drawing yourself as you are right now. Take a few minutes and you can use crayons or markers, or even just a pen or pencil (although I highly recommend using color). Next, draw yourself with your biggest problem or concern right now. Take a moment and reflect on this image. Finally draw yourself with this problem solved. What many people discover with this simple and fun activity is that they have found their own way through their problems”explains the specialist.
Stress: talking about your problems
Another technique is to imagine your stressor as an embodied thing and engage with it. “It may sound weird, but it works and it’s worth a try”, assures the expert. She explains how to do it:
“Start with a slow breath, then let a problem or concern come to you. Imagine that this problem is an embodied thing sitting in a chair next to you. Then you talk to him or write to him. Let the dialogue unfold. It’s a way to access the subconscious and really understand what’s going on in your own body. Then take a deep breath and move. No matter how you move, release your energy.”
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Christmas: 5 simple techniques to control holiday stress
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