It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for at least a third of Brits the festive season can be tarred with high levels of stress and anxiety. It’s not just the stress of Christmas shopping and higher workloads that stresses people out, it’s also social anxiety over the endless festive get-togethers and parties.
A couple of years ago, Mind revealed that one in four adults battle with social anxiety or shyness during the party season. A fifth of people go as far as to feign illness and one in 10 blame lack of childcare to get out of their work Christmas party. ‘Coping with social anxiety can be difficult at any time of year but at Christmas there are extra events and demands that leave you feeling even worse than usual,’ explains Rachel Boyd, Information Manager at Mind. ‘The pressure to feel on good form and join in at work when everyone around you seems to be having fun can have an effect on both the body and the mind.’
Over eight million people in the UK suffer with a form on anxiety. For the majority of people Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but for a third of Brits it can be tarred with intensified stress levels and anxiety. With just two weeks to go and plenty of festive parties to attend and Christmas shopping to do, stress levels can skyrocket. Here’s some helpful pointers from the experts…
How can you keep your stress in check?
First and foremost, ‘It’s key not to take too much on and to be honest with people close to you if you are finding it difficult to cope,’ says Boyd. ‘Keeping anxiety bottled up can make things worse so find someone you can confide in and let them know that you need some support.’
Make a list: Running through your to-do list mentally can send your brain into overdrive. Instead, take a leaf out of Jo Fairley’s book and embrace The Joy Of Lists. Whether it’s a handwritten list that you tick off or a digital one that you email to your other half, there’s something incredibly satisfying about seeing the completed tasks start to rack up.
Be selective: Despite December being one of the busiest months of the year, there is always a pressure to try and catch up with everyone in your contacts book. Don’t RSVP to every event you’re invited to. Be selective and don’t take on too much.
Get some sleep: In between gift shopping and catching up with friends, there’s often little time for sleep. Burning the candle at both ends can exacerbate our anxiety as we’re not getting enough sleep as our brain’s capacity to reason is much lower and our attention span is shorter.
If you find rising anxiety is keeping you awake until the early hours, introduce Magnolia Rhodiola Complex into your routine. The blend of herbs help to not only calm your mind and improve your body’s response to stress, but also physically relax your muscles.
Breathe properly: ‘Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful anxiety-reducing technique as it activates the body’s relaxation response,’ says Abie Taylor-Spencer, TMS Technician at Smart TMS. ‘It helps the body go from the fight-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system.’
Take time out: Over 60% of us complain that we don’t get enough ‘me time’ over the festive period. So much so, David Lloyd fitness clubs have created ‘Blissmas’, a mindfulness class that encourages gym-goers to switch-off, relax and reconnect in the lead up to Christmas. With a soothing piano soundtrack, healing Himalayan lamps and a calming blend of meditation and yoga techniques, the 30-minute class promises to leave you feeling revived.
Rethink your thought process: ‘When people are anxious they are usually obsessing about something that might occur in the future,’ says Taylor-Spencer. ‘Instead, pause, breathe and pay attention to what’s happening right now.’ Often the situation changes and improves, but in that instance our mind often falls into worst case scenario rather than waiting to see what happens.