When our stress levels are running high it doesn’t take much to send us over the edge and get fired up about things that wouldn’t normally bother us..
To keep the rising stress at bay, here are 6 ways to reduce the Chirstmas chaos overwhelm.
- Find small pockets of time to take deep breaths. As simple as it sounds, remember to breath. When you are doing routine things such as washing your hands, waiting for the kettle to boil or doing a few dishes, make this your time to breathe deeply. Deep breathing triggers our parasympathetic nervous system, offsets stress and elicits a calming feeling.
- Enjoy the moment. Even the most stressful of days offers moments where everything is OK – you just have to remember to notice them. And when you do, slow down and appreciate it. Sip your coffee and watch the world around you for a few minutes. Stop meal preparation and watch the kids play for two minutes. Soak in the ‘now’ without thought of the future or the past. Savour the experience.
- Move your body. Go for a walk, stretch, dance in the kitchen, play wrestle with the kids - it doesn’t matter what it is – just move! Research tells us that even five minutes of high-intensity exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects in the body.
- Pause before responding. When our buttons are pushed it can trigger us to react in a certain way. If our baseline stress levels are already high then the kids' fight over who got the biggest biscuit may just push you over the edge. For some this may be to yell and for others it may be to grab those darn biscuits and throw them in the bin. Instead of your ‘default’ reaction being triggered in times of stress, pause and consciously choose how you will respond to the situation. Give yourself 5 seconds to take a deep breath, let the wave of stress/anger/frustration wash over you and then respond.
- Do something fun. It’s too easy to forget about having fun when we are overloaded with things that MUST GET DONE. But if we wait for times when there isn’t anything to do, we may be waiting until all the kids have left home. Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen if I don’t sweep this floor now? If I don’t send that email now? If I don’t get that washing on now? If no one is going to die, then you can probably leave it for 10 minutes. Play a game of cards, kick a ball around outside, do a crossword, tell each other jokes from a joke book – whatever is fun for you.
- Be kind to yourself. For many parents this time of year is very stressful. Schedules are full of end of year concerts, parties and get togethers, and there is little down time. Parents and students alike can be cranky and tired, more than ready for the summer break to unwind and recharge. So don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Acknowledge this to yourself, do what you can and accept what you can’t.
The beauty about these ideas is that you can start immediately. They are simple and if you can introduce a couple of them to your days, you are sure to notice a difference in the way you feel.