It’s that time of year again when the festive season creeps up on us and we lose ourselves in a frenzy of buying last minute gifts and tying up every single loose end at work so that we can take some time off.
Why is it that this ‘wonderful time of the year’, which should be a time for celebrating and enjoying the festive atmosphere, turns into a stressful affair? Emotional and financial worries are usually to blame for the amount of stress we undergo, causing us headaches, nausea and insomnia, which can have a detrimental effect on the heart. Research published by medical journal, BMJ, has shown that there is a higher risk of heart attacks during the Christmas period, and it’s no surprise.
Christmas can be a very expensive time of year that many of us can’t afford but it doesn’t have to be that way and there are ways we can ease the stress and the financial burden.
Cut back on spending
Although it’s considered to be a season of giving, this doesn’t mean you have to break the bank and run up huge debts in the process. Set a budget that you can afford and stick to it. If you’re feeling the pinch, family and friends will understand that you can’t afford to overspend. Also, it can be fun finding gifts that are more thoughtful than lavish. Or you could set a rule. For example, some people like to say that they will only buy four gifts for their close family members and set a structure, such as - something to wear, something you need, something you want, something to read. This can really help reset expectations at this time of year. Try making your own Christmas cards or spend more time on the wrapping and presentation – you’ll be surprised how many people love something handmade and personal.
OK, so it can be seriously tempting to gorge on Christmas pudding or pile our plates full of ‘roasties’, all washed down with a bottle of wine, but you won’t thank yourself in a week’s time when you have to return to the ‘real world’.
Too much drinking and overeating can leave you feeling low and lethargic, which can further increase stress levels. If you can’t resist temptation, get back on track the next day by drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy amount and by getting some exercise. It’s also a good idea to stick to your usual sleeping patterns.
Plan in advance
Try buying gifts throughout the year or in the sales as this not only means you won’t have to leave everything until the last minute, it can also feel a little easier on the purse strings when you spread the cost over the year.
Make time for fun
Picture the scene: everyone has overeaten on Christmas Day, you all sit down to watch the television and, one by one, each of you drifts into the land of nod! To keep the atmosphere uplifted, organise some fun games and share some laughter – a great way to release endorphins, lift your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
Go for a walk
There’s nothing more revitalising than getting outside and taking a walk in the fresh, crisp air. As well as burning off some of those excess calories you’ve consumed, walking can improve your mood and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Remember, Christmas is the ‘season to be jolly’!