8th November 2021
The Secret to a Stress-Free Christmas
Look forward to a peaceful and happy festive season
Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year, with high expectations and increasing demands from all angles.
But it doesn't have to be that way. With just a few simple steps you can lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep and coast through Christmas with a serene smile on your face.
Breathe. No, don't sigh and scroll past this one - it's an important one.
By simply stopping what you are doing and taking a couple of deep breaths, you can slow your heart rate, lower your shoulders and bring a sense of calm.
We don't mean shallow chest breathing like you do when you're sitting at home watching Bake Off - this is deep breathing that reaches right down to your lungs, through your nose so your stomach expands on the inhale and moves inwardly on the exhale.
Slowly breathe in through the nose, counting to four in your mind. Hold it for four seconds then breathe out slowly through your mouth, counting down from eight to one.
Repeat four times for a complete reset.
2. ASK FOR HELP
You don't win any prizes for doing absolutely everything yourself. People around you will feel valued and appreciated if you trust them to help make Christmas extra special.
Could someone peel the vegetables on Christmas morning? Or wrap the presents in the days leading up to the big day?
Perhaps you could ask your kids to lay the table on Christmas eve so it's ready for everyone the following day.
3. GET AWAY
They say a change is as good as a rest - and going away over the festive period is a welcome change for many.
Not only does it give you a fresh outlook on things, but you also have people around you who want to make your day wonderful.
Imagine sinking into a comfortable chair with a view looking out over miles and miles of ocean. You order your tipple of choice or perhaps an afternoon tea before relaxing back into an afternoon of calm with no demands or expectations. A warm welcome (and a warm swimming pool) is waiting for you at the Carlyon Bay Hotel.
How often do you think "Oh, I'd love a cup of tea" when you're out and about or rushing from one place to another?
It's not always the caffeine that we're craving - the meditative process of filling the kettle, waiting for it to boil, choosing a mug and brewing the perfect cup of steaming tea (or coffee) is part of its attraction.
This daily habit is also a good opportunity to add a sprinkle of calm - once you have made your drink, sit somewhere comfortable and enjoy the moment.
What can you hear? The birds outside, or traffic passing by in the distance, the wind blowing through the trees.
What can you smell? Your freshly made drink, or tonight's dinner sizzling away in the oven, the perfume you applied this morning in a rush before leaving the house.
What can you see? Look around your room - taking care not to get distracted by the dust, or the ironing, or today's unopened post - just look, see, observe and move on to the next thing.
What can you feel? The rich fabric of the armchair, or the soft fur of your pet under your hand, the smooth ceramic of your cup.
5. BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE
The temperatures may be cooler but it's still important during the Winter to make sure you get enough daylight.
Natural daylight has been shown to improve sleep, boost mood and enhance motivation, so pull on a pair of boots and a waterproof coat and head outside.
If you're lucky enough to live near the sea, make the most of the bonus benefits of sea air, which is also believed to have natural healing qualities.
6. GIVE EXPERIENCES NOT THINGS
People will appreciate your presence more than your presents. Cast the late-night shopping list aside in favour of gift experiences that your loved ones will treasure.
An afternoon tea for two or an indulgent spa treatment make fantastic gifts that they'll remember long after the turkey is eaten.
Plus you may even get to share the experience with them if it's a treat for two.
7. DITCH THE CARDS
If the thought of writing and posting 100 Christmas cards fills you with dread, you're not alone.
Writer's cramp, coming up with personalised individual messages for each one and envelope-licking RSI are all occupational hazards that most of us would rather avoid.
Instead of going through the painful ritual this year, identify ten of the most important cards and just do them. The other 90 would probably be just as happy with an email card - just let them know you're going green in 2021 and will be making a donation to charity in lieu of sending hundreds of cards.
8. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE LEMONS
We all have scents that instantly bring back memories of Christmases gone by; cinnamon, orange, mulled wine.
But you may want to add a new scent to the list...
Researchers have found that the smell of lemons can instantly boost your mood, making it a quick pick-me-up at any time of year - keep a lemon handy over the festive period and make the most of nature's zesty energy (drop a slice into a glass of gin and tonic for extra indulgence).
9. BOOK IN SOME DOWNTIME
With such a long to-do list over the Christmas period, it's easy to lose sight of what's important.
Step back from the detail and give yourself headspace with some time away from the mayhem.
That may be a break away staying in a four-star hotel (ahem...) or it may just be an early evening walk around your neighbourhood with your partner.
Wrap up warm and wander around the local streets to admire everyone's festive light displays.
10. GET CREATIVE
There's a reason shows such as the Great British Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee and the Great Pottery Throwdown have exploded in popularity in recent years.
Crafting is a great way to unwind and relax, whether you're doodling on a sketch pad, folding origami robins or making a holiday wreath for the front door.
Gather your materials, turn up your favourite music, and lose yourself in the creative process of crafting.
While Christmas can seem overwhelming, it's a time to appreciate family and friends and recognise how lucky we are.
After such a challenging couple of years, make this Christmas extra special without any of the dramas or pressure.
Sharing experiences with family and friends will create magical memories that you can look back on forever. We wish you a happy and stress-free Christmas.
Treat yourself to a break away at The Carlyon Bay Hotel this year - available from early December through until New Year.