How To Cope With Anxiety Over Christmas

Festive Anxiety

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.

Shabir And Trinny On The Best Supplements

Trinny and Shabir

If you find the world of supplements overwhelming then watching this 20 minute video will help. Shabir and Trinny explore the best supplements and explain what they’re good for and why you might benefit from taking them…

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December Newsletter

victoria health awards

Voila. It’s the last newsletter of the year, so hello and welcome to the VH Awards 2018. As ever, nobody has voted, which makes me happy for several different reasons, not least because I have no desire to bombard any of you with ‘vote for’ emails when you could be watching a box set, having a bath or be sleeping in bed.

The awards are based on facts, although I have allowed myself some creative license here and there. There are treats attached to some of the awards, but not all awards have products attached to them. Each of the awards given are representative of the journey throughout this year, which has been interesting for many different reasons. Life works in mysterious ways and I fully embrace that as we uphold the thing that matters most to us, namely helping to make a positive difference in all that we do.

So having declared to the VH Addicts that there wouldn’t be any more product launches this year, I eat my words once again. Here we are and here we go: Read More…

Is Overtiredness Stopping You From Sleeping

Clocks Going Back

Whether they go forward or back, the change in the clocks can often impact our sleep. This weekend, they’re going back so we can all enjoy an extra hour in bed on Sunday morning, but be warned, the days are about to get shorter and the cold, dark nights are going to become longer.

Sleep, or lack of it, is big business. In the US, its been reported that some have resorted to paying anywhere between $1100 and $5000 a month on sleep coaches in a bid to ease their insomnia. On the other side of the pond, since the clocks went forward in March, there has been plenty of discussion about sleep – how much we should be getting, how to get more et cetera.

But more recently, experts have been suggesting that overtiredness could be impacting the amount and quality of shut-eye we’re getting. Physiologist and sleep therapist, Nerina Ramlakhan told the Guardian, ‘We have become restless as a society – and that places more demands on us when we get into bed at night.’

‘We have lost the rituals and practices that gave us little respites during the day. In the past, you would go to the supermarket and, while you were waiting in the queue, you’d daydream, be a bit bored, look around,’ she says. ‘Now, any window like that will be filled by looking at your phone, answering some emails, sorting out your Amazon account.’

How can you reduce overtiredness?

The obvious answer might appear to be get more sleep, but as Ramlakhan has explained, too many of us are in constant overdrive during the waking hours that we’re too wired to relax at night. We should be looking at ways the tweak our lifestyle and introduce moments of respite throughout our days.

While it is easier said than done, limiting the amount of time you spend on your phone can help. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that those who don’t switch-off from work-related emails and activities at home struggle to relax and recharge for the next day.

The iPhone Screen Time app is a good way to introduce time restrictions on emails, social media and various apps. Putting your phone on DND (Do Not Disturb) between the hours of 6 pm and 7 am can also help ease you off late night work emails and mindless scrolling of your Instagram or Facebook accounts.

As with every article on sleep, we had to drop in meditation and yoga. Both practices are good at helping you to switch off and reconnect with yourself. If the idea of an hour of Vinyasa Flow feels you with dread, try swimming or joining your local bouldering club – both require you to leave your phone in the locker and keep your mind focused on the activity at hand.

If you get those moments of tightness in your chest or want something to help ease your stress, look to Magnolia Rhodiola Complex, £26. It’s a supplement we recommend time and time again for the simple fact that it does genuinely offer some relief. Interestingly, new research has also suggested that your other half’s body odour can also help you to de-stress, so keeping a T-shirt aside could potentially do the trick too.

What if you still can’t sleep?

If you’re still struggling to sleep after introducing pockets of rest during the day, it might be worth looking at your bedroom environment. Is the temperature cool enough? Is there any light coming through the curtains? And, is there a noise that could be silenced? None of these things are particularly ground-breaking, but a lot of us don’t have good sleep hygiene. For instance, not eating an hour or two before bed, or partaking in an intense cardio class too close to bedtime.

Upping your levels of melatonin (sleep hormone) can also help you to drift off (Cherry Night, £25.95, by Viridian is a good option). But, this does take a week or so to take effect. If you want a little helping hand in the first instance, look to Sleep Tight, £25.50, which contains a range of relaxing and sleep-inducing herbs, including magnesium, oat straw and ashwagandha.

Could Tapping Reduce Your Stress Levels?

could-tapping-reduce-your-stress-levels

We all have those moments when everything mounts up. For some it lasts for mere moments, for others it can go on for days or weeks. It could be a mammoth project at work, a renovation at home, or an amalgamation of overwhelming things. Even the toughest, most mentally and emotionally stable people waver on occasions. A tightness in your chest that takes more than a couple of deep breaths to loosen or a racing mind keeping you up until 3 am.

There are around three million people in the UK who suffer with anxiety disorders. While there are prescription medication that can ease anxiety, there are also plenty of natural remedies that don’t have any known side effects. Magnolia Rhodiola Complex, £26, is the one that Shabir recommends time and time again as the blend of herbs not only helps you to relax, but also makes your body more resilient to stress.

Over the past year or so, another technique has been receiving a fair amount of attention, tapping.

What is tapping?

Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), is essentially like acupuncture but without the needles. Instead, you use your fingertips to tap on the meridian pressure points outlined in Chinese medicine to help release blockages of energy.

While tapping is heavily influenced by traditional Chinese medicine techniques, it wasn’t invented until the 90s by a man called Gary Craig. Since then some practitioners have suggested that the technique can help ease phobias, chronic pain and addictions, as well as help reduce anxiety and stress levels by lowering your cortisol levels.

So, how do you ‘tap’?

Not everyone is going to feel comfortable about tapping various parts of their body in public, but there are a couple of options that can be done discreetly on a crowded bus. It’s also surprisingly easy to mentally get into it. Unlike meditation where you’re encouraged to focus on blank space, when it comes to tapping you hone in on the issue at hand and target the negative emotion or stress. At the same time you tap up to seven times on the key meridian points.

If you’re not au fait with Chinese medicine, the key points to ease stress are found on the side of your hand; the inner section of your eyebrows; to the side and below your eye socket; underneath your nose; on the crease between your lip and chin; your collar bone; just below your armpit; and the top of your head. If you want to follow a specific routine, it’s worth looking up The Tapping Solution, which offers short video tutorials and help finding tapping experts near you.

What are the alternatives?

For those who still remain unconvinced about tapping parts of their body, there are plenty of other methods to relieve moments of stress and anxiety. Breathing properly sounds very straightforward, but most of us don’t do it correctly. The result is higher stress levels and poor posture.

Getting enough sleep is obvious, but if you’re stressed out it’s likely that you struggle to drift off too. A lot of experts recommend partaking in at least two hours of good cardio exercise each week and avoiding eating at least two hours before bed.

There’s also some research to suggest that setting out a structured sleep routine can help. It might sound ridiculously simple, but when you think about it, do you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day? If you need a little extra help, Shabir recommends Sleep Tight, £25.50. It goes without saying that combining it with some light tapping could be just the ticket to help you drift off…

Shabir And Trinny On Post-Summer Concerns

Shabir and Trinny

With summer drawing to a close and autumn just beginning, Shabir joined Trinny Woodall in the bathroom to discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments available for some of the most common post-summer health and beauty concerns. Read More…