How do you find the festive season? It can be enchanting. But it can also feel overwhelming.
If you tend to experience anxiety anyway, then you’ll know that there’s something about Christmas-time which can really aggravate and intensify the symptoms.
There’s nothing like an impending, immoveable deadline and yet-to-be-done Christmas shopping to get the stress hormones flooding your system!
And if (like me) you have a nervous system which is highly sensitive to external stimuli you’re more likely to experience the symptoms of anxiety.
And this time of year there are so many stimuli bombarding us: bright lights; crazy-busy towns, cities and shopping centres; parties and “dos” to go to; sugary & fatty foods; alcohol; Christmas shopping; the pressure to visit as many family members as possible; and jingly-jangly Christmas music everywhere!!!
It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed and stuck in a vicious cycle of anxiety and feeling bad that you’re not enjoying what “should” be a lovely, festive, family time of year.
Feel like hibernating and waking up in spring?!
Me too, sometimes. But I know you can cope. Yoga has given me the tools and the confidence to know I can deal with anxiety and it can give you that security too.
Plus, realizing that having a highly sensitive nervous system can cause a lot of the symptoms of anxiety is actually empowering – because then you realize there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just that having to process all of the sensory data is incredibly tiring and sets off your body’s stress response all too easily.
Here are my three top tips from the yoga toolkit to help you navigate the festive season with grace and peace of mind (essential reading for highly sensitive people … and anyone who finds Christmas a tad overwhelming).
If you feel the anxiety levels rising, anchor yourself to your breath.
Breathe in for a count of four, breathe out for a count of four. Let go of tension as you breathe out.
Then begin to lengthen the exhale so you’re breathing in to a count of four and out to a count of six. The longer out-breath will engage your body’s relaxation response. Let go of the stressful thoughts as you exhale.
And then begin to notice the silent spacious pause between each breath – and bask in that pause of stillness; that moment of tranquillity.
2. Be kind to yourself
Eaten one too many mince pies or imbibed too many sherries? Don’t beat yourself up. Just acknowledge – with compassion – that perhaps that 5th mince pie wasn’t the best of choices for your health and energy levels.
And make a better choice next time. Or don’t! After all “Everything in moderation, even moderation” said the Buddha.
Whatever your actions and choices over this festive period – be kind to yourself. It is as it is!
3. Allow yourself “me-time”
This can be a busy time of year – but if you’re sensitive to your surroundings and pick up easily on other people’s moods then it’s essential that you give yourself quiet-time alone.
But don’t let your me-time be time fretting over the Christmas to-do list!
Give yourself the chance to sit and day-dream; to watch the clouds passing across the sky; to relax; to meditate. Whatever fills you up. Give yourself some breathing space. Try one of my free relaxations to help you.
Yuletide Blessings to you!
Over to you
What are your tips to feel calm at Christmas? I’d love to hear.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.
Weekly yoga classes: press pause in your busy week with mindful movement, breathing and relaxation with weekly Dru Yoga classes in Southampton, and Bishopstoke (near Eastleigh).
Monthly Friday night Restorative Yoga Class: Rest & Restore in Eastleigh. Treat yourself to blissfully relaxing experiences; make time just for you to nourish your mind, body and soul.
Yoga workshops & events: give yourself the time and space to breathe, open, relax and let go with yoga, relaxation, mindfulness and meditation.
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