I was interviewed by a journalist recently about how to stay calm in the lead-up to Christmas, and we both agreed that it’s crazy how we create an imaginary deadline by which time we need to get all projects completed, or catch up with every one of our friends. Add this pressure to an already-busy workload and there’s a strong chance you’ll feel completely stressed.
So what can you do to preserve your energy before your Christmas break?
1. Listen to your body
Often, minor physical ailments begin to arise when we start to feel chronically stressed. Our tendency may be to brush these aside and press on. Your body is usually one of the first places you’ll notice mental exhaustion in the form of physical pain, so it’s important to pay attention. Even the aches and pains you consider to be bearable are telling you to take better care of yourself. Visit your doctor, kinesiologist, naturopath, acupuncturist or osteopath and make some time to rest.
2. Let go of some expectations
Take a look at the projects and tasks you have set for the next couple of months and challenge yourself to let go of at least one thing that you really don’t need to get done in that time frame. You might discover that some tasks can be deleted from your list forever. Remember that after some time off, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle projects with a new approach.
3. Have a break before the holidays
One of my favourite things to do in the lead-up to Christmas is to take a break first. Get out of the city and spend at least three days disconnected from your everyday life. Make sure you use this time to rest so you’re ready to face the last few weeks of the year feeling recharged. If you can’t get away this year, set aside at least an afternoon to rest with your feet up. It’s not an old wives’ tale that putting your feet up is good for you – research tells us that elevating our legs actually enhances the restorative process. It might also be worth planning for next year’s pre-Christmas break.
4. Ask for help
Pride sometimes stops us from letting others know that we’re struggling, but remember, people often like to help where they can. Let the ones closest to you know that you need a hand. As well as being aware that now isn’t the time to impose another demand on your time, they may feel pleased to be able to lend some support.
5. Meditate, do yoga or have a swim
Exercise is invaluable to help keep your stress levels healthy, but it’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to what you need most during times of burnout. These are the times that we need to be gentle with our bodies. Meditation, yoga and swimming can all lower cortisol levels and have a great restorative effect. Make it a priority to schedule at least a couple of sessions of gentle exercise or meditation each week.
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