As the build-up to Christmas continues, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and stressed. The problem is that, at a time where we should be winding down to celebrate the festive season with our loved ones, stress raises our cortisol levels, a stress hormone which can cause all sorts of inflammation and irritation. This hormone instructs our body to activate our ‘flight or fight’ response which in turn dampens our ability to focus, makes us feel disconnected from those around us and ultimately has a detrimental effect on our immune system.  Not precisely in line with the “all is calm, all is bright” ethos we wish to present at this time of year.

Therefore it’s essential to have a few tricks to destressing under your belt for the times when the hectic runaround starts to jingle your bells!

Firstly, breathe.
It is widely accepted that aromatherapy can be helpful, especially for treating stress. Inhaling air infused with essential oils stimulates the release of certain chemicals in the brain that can induce relaxation. This is due to olfactory or

scent receptors in the nose sending signals to the limbic system or emotional centre of your brain. Certain scents such as peppermint, orange and eucalyptus or more traditionally festive aromas such as frankincense, clove and cinnamon are particularly relaxing. You can use a diffuser, add them to a warm bath or even applied to the skin as long as they are mixed with an appropriate carrier oil.

Write It Down
Taking the time to use a few time management strategies can reduce Santa related stress. Creating a list of things to do and placing them in order of importance. Don’t be afraid to delegate and learn from Elsa, sometimes you have to let things go!

Eat, Drink & Be Merry
Starting the day with a protein based breakfast stabilizes our blood sugar levels, leaving us fuller longer, in turn maintaining energy levels throughout the day. A good breakfast can also help improve focus, concentration and productivity. Sugar and processed foods have the opposite effect, and although they may provide a quick energy burst, it won’t last long, so are to be avoided where possible.It’s essential to drink lots of water & stay hydrated. This will help your body fight fatigue, energize and may even help lift your mood.

Work It Out
Whether we like it or not, exercise increases overall health and sense of well-being, releasing hormones that combat the adverse effects of stress on the body.A good work out can improve confidence and help with relaxation, even reducing effects of mild depression and anxiety. Not to mention you will indeed sleep better afterwards. You don’t have to overdo it. Take a walk, run up and down your stairs or if you want to go for it, get down to the gym

Chiropractic adjustments to nerve interference and areas of spinal stress can help to reduce tension dramatically. A recent study showed that the work of a good chiropractor could significantly lower levels of cortisol and help you to feel better quickly.

Getting enough sleep helps you wake up with a positive attitude and energy. Even taking time out to relax for only 10 minutes can reap enormous benefits. So shut out the world, sit back in a quiet spot and go back to the start – breathe. You can meditate, sip on tea, take a relaxing bath, practice yoga or get back to nature, taking a casual stroll and enjoying the fresh air.

Make your days merry and bright by taking time out for yourself this Christmas!

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Jamie Sanders is a freelance writer for many media outlets. She married her soulmate and writer, Dennis Sanders. They live in Boston with their two dogs.

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