‘Tis the season to be jolly, and with Christmas now only a few weeks away, it’s time to immerse yourself in that festive cheer. Except, if you’re feeling far from fabulous and the pressures of the festive season are already leaving you frazzled, embracing the most wonderful time of the year with all the usual gusto might seem impossible.
While there’s no denying that there’s a lot to love about Christmas, buying presents, ordering the food and organising family for the big day can quickly become overwhelming – particularly when you’re just not ‘feeling it’. And on top of all the usual stressors, from work to childcare and everything in between, it can be tempting just to run away from it all and lock yourself in your wardrobe for a few hours rather than face it all head on.
Putting a brave face on has become the norm, and following last year’s lockdown Christmas, the pressure could be adding to it all. But rather than keeping on going regardless, there are ways to make it all feel more manageable, and integrating some self care into your daily schedule will go a long way towards helping you to feel more able to cope.
Just ten minutes a day can make all the difference, so try these three things for a cool, calm and collected Christmas – or at least one that’s a little less anxiety-inducing than usual.
The power of positivity
When someone tells you to stop being negative or to simply think more positively, the likelihood is that it doesn’t go down too well. After all, if it was that simple, none of us would have off days – right? Well, although it’s certainly unrealistic to think that we could ever completely eradicate feelings of stress and anxiety entirely, as both are necessary for human survival, it turns out, they might just be onto something, as research in the field of neuroscience has proven that by changing the content of our thoughts, we can quite literally rewire our brains.
The way we think relies on tried and tested neural pathways to fire in the brain, but when we repeatedly make the conscious effort to change our automatic thought processes, we can form new neural pathways. Over time, this way of thinking will become the brain’s new default setting, and you’ll have a more positive outlook overall. Pretty mind-blowing stuff, right?
So next time you find yourself catastrophising over the worst case scenario at work – which might, of course, never happen – or telling yourself you simply MUST tick off everything on your to-do list in an unrealistic period of time, pause for a moment, breathe, and think about how you could reframe it. Turning your thoughts on their head might feel alien at first, but eventually, it will become second nature. And because your thoughts influence your feelings, your feelings influence your reactions, and your actions influence your reality, if you do it consistently enough then you might just experience your whole world changing for the better.
Plant medicines prevail
CBD has become a household name over recent years, with the masses clamouring to try out this much-acclaimed herbal remedy to see if it could possibly live up to the incredible claims being made about it. Derived from the cannabis plant but minus the psychoactive compound of THC, it has been linked to an improvement in symptoms in all kinds of different conditions, ranging from chronic inflammation and pain to epilepsy – but at the height of the pandemic, it became a particularly hot topic because of its seeming ability to ease feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
Today, CBD can be found in everything from bath bombs and moisturising creams to chocolate and even beer – but oils and tinctures remain the most popular way to take it to ensure an accurate dose. But does it really do what it says on the tin?
When it comes to stress and anxiety disorders, the answer so far seems to be a resounding yes, with a growing body of scientific research backing up the claims. According to one 2019 analysis, it has demonstrated a ‘clear calming effect’ on participants of a particular study, although it should be noted that most of the studies investigating the connection have so far not included a control group or a baseline for comparison.
Nevertheless, the results to date are promising, and those looking for a natural pick-me-up during times of need are increasingly turning to CBD to help them cope. Available from most health food shops and online stores like GrassCity in varying doses, a standard bottle is the perfect size to keep in your handbag for when you need it.
The concept of introducing meditation into your wellness routine isn’t a new one, yet the vast majority of the population still have yet to take the plunge. Taking just ten minutes out of your day – mornings work best – to turn inwards and focus on the breath has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease over time, which is pretty powerful stuff. And, given that it has also been shown to help regular participants manage feelings of anxiety and overwhelm more effectively and to self-soothe during times of high stress, it’s little wonder that meditation is becoming more than just a wellness trend, but a daily non-negotiable for many.
Yoga, which is closely linked to meditation and mindfulness, has been shown to offer similar benefits – and as exercise, too, is a powerful tool in stress management, combining the two packs a powerful punch. If you’re unsure how to get started, sign up for a weekly yoga class or download one of the many free meditation apps available on the iOS or Android app stores, which will guide you through the process, step by step.