Ah Christmas. More dates in the diary, parties, presents, visitors and extra house guests mean even the most relaxed of us can start to feel a touch frazzled as the busy holiday season begins.
We recently caught up with wellness coach Katie Dyer to hear her simple, yet intentional tips on how to feel calm and in control this Christmas.
Plan, plan, plan
It may sound obvious but planning is the key to staying on top of your time, which becomes even more in demand in the run-up to Christmas. Diary planning is a simple way to stay in control of your time.
Simply being able to look ahead and see what you’re doing and when, can help you manage your days better than trying to keep them all in your head. It helps you avoid cramming your days with too many invitations and overloading yourself.
At Christmas time, a plan of presents to buy is another great way of staying on top both of your time and your budget. Use a checklist in your phone and tick them off as you go to avoid buying too much or missing anyone off your list.
Be mindful about what you eat
We all like to indulge at Christmas, but overeating can make us feel sluggish and out of sorts. Recognising when you are actually hungry rather than being tempted by all the treats on offer will help you make wise choices and feel sustained and energised throughout the busy holidays.
I suggest eating before you go out to a party so you’re not filling up on unhealthy party snacks that don’t usually give you energy, but often just calories. This way you won’t be so famished that you fill up on treats when you arrive but can just have one or two as a treat.
And don’t be afraid to say no, you don’t have to have every mince pie or canapé that is thrust in front of you. Giving a compliment to your host on their offering, then a polite decline is absolutely acceptable.
Try drinking less
Despite most of us thinking alcohol can help us feel calm, often too much alcohol can have the reverse effect. Whether it's for health reasons or the fact you can’t face a hangover, if you’re conscious of wanting to consume less alcohol over the holidays then you’re not alone. More and more of us are choosing to drink less, but often the holiday season can be a tough one to turn down a glass of something special. If you’re planning on drinking I’d suggest choosing spirits over wine as it contains less sugar, especially when you choose a slimline or sugar-free mixer.
Size matters too. Choose single shots of spirits or small glasses of wine to minimise a hangover. You’re still enjoying your drink but the impact is less and you really won’t notice the difference. And do keep drinking water, try to have plenty before you go and drink a glass in between your alcohol to minimise its dehydrating effects.
And remember, you really don’t have to have an alcoholic drink. If, like many of us, you feel self-conscious when all your friends are drinking and you’re not, think about having a soft drink in a wine glass or tonic water in a spirit glass and they’ll be less likely to ask you about it.
Taking time for self-care
Any form of self-care can go on the back burner at Christmas and with us all being so busy it often disappears off the to-do list altogether. Yet looking after yourself is restorative and much needed, especially if it’s you that many of the Christmas chores and organisation falls to.
Try to take some time out for you, even it's just ten minutes a day to energise you. Choose whatever fuels you - it could be a quick walk and some fresh air to clear your mind, a spot of gardening, reading a book, a nap or a lovely relaxing bath. Small pockets of self-care can mount up to feeling calmer and in control, even when things are getting hectic and feel overwhelming.
Take some gentle exercise
Exercise isn’t always seen as a priority and can clash with our social activities in the holiday season. But if you’re mindful you can squeeze in short bursts of exercise as a simple way to incorporate them into your day. Easy tips include using steps versus lifts and escalators when out, or parking your car that bit further away from the supermarket and pushing that heavy trolley back is a good work out.
Remember, your exercise doesn’t have to be an hour-long to be worthwhile, a quick blast of 10 minutes and these small changes can add up to a big difference in the way you feel about your day and your to-do list.
A good night’s sleep is often the first thing that takes the hit during the Christmas party season. Trying to do more activity on less sleep inevitably makes us less productive. We tend to go to bed later and the increased amount of alcohol, caffeine and food we consume can disrupt our sleep further.
Lack of sleep can negatively affect your mood and when we are tired, we naturally are less able to perform. Having less sleep than we need slows us down and things don’t go as well as we want, so wrapping that tricky gift suddenly becomes far more of a chore when you’re feeling tired.
You can’t ‘bank’ sleep so long lie in’s and one-off,12-hour sleep sessions will not ‘pay back’ those hours you lost. Try not to burn the candle at both ends and instead of getting up early to do a workout you may feel better sleeping a little longer.
If you do any of these tips to help create a calmer Christmas then this is the one, sleep is a magic elixir that we should all be making time for.