Top Tips For a Calm, Relaxing and Stress-Free Christmas Period

Top Tips For a Calm, Relaxing and Stress-Free Christmas Period

The festive season is nearly upon us, however there is no need to feel worried or allow our anxiety to spike.


Christmas. Say the word out loud in a group and watch people’s faces. Some will light up, others will look horrified. Even those who adore the period will usually admit it can be emotionally stressful.  We often feel that Christmas needs to be ‘perfect’, and that we must get on with everyone.

According to the Stress Management Society, one in 20 people considers Christmas more stressful than a burglary, and over half of Britons will have had an alcoholic drink before lunch on Christmas Day – to trying to cope with the stress and pressure we apply to ourselves.  Now that is something to think about …

Now, as we all know when we talk about stress, we don’t just mean the emotional stuff. “Our stress response can be triggered not just by the classic stressors, such as being under pressure, late or upset about something, it’s also worrying about stuff or being bored or frustrated.  The whole seasonal period can be a complex hormonal vicious cycle that we create, by analysing too much, charging around too much and thinking too much, probably about things that won’t happen anyway!”

Things don’t need to be like this though, as there are some really easy and simple ways to reduce our stress and anxiety levels. It sounds obvious, but keeping things in perspective can have a huge impact on how you feel. Ask yourself: does it really matter if the lunch is late and the bed unmade?


Here are some of our top tips for a calm, relaxing and stress-free Christmas period.


Tip 1 – just take a deep breath and to start breathing deeply. The body associates being stressed with that kind of upper chest, short, sharp breathing.  When you force yourself to use your diaphragm and breathe deeply, really making your lungs work, you’re overriding your stress response. The two don’t correlate: deep belly breaths and stress cannot function.


Tip 2 –  Smile, and more importantly, pass your smile on. Smiling and laughing will also actively increase your serotonin levels (which is our ‘happy’ chemical) and calm down the production of stress hormones.


Tip 3 – Relax, and enjoy the festive season.  Take some time for yourself in all the hustle and bustle.  You could try a little mindfulness exercise, or treat yourself to an afternoon with friends, either for a mini-treatment or simply just a hot chocolate and marshmallows!  YOU are important, so take a little time to really value yourself.


Tip 4 – Sleep, and get some early nights.  We sleep every single day (I hope!) but we don’t always understand the absolute importance of rest and sleep.  Adults need anywhere between 7 and 10 hours sleep per night, to allow our brains to process our thoughts, so we wake up refreshed, calm and ready for our busy day ahead.  When we curtail this, we start to see the effects very quickly, just ask any new parent!


Tip 5 – Overindulgence.  Christmas is the time to enjoy ourselves, and we sometimes allow ourselves to overindulge with food and alcohol.  Too much alcohol really does impact on our happy chemical, serotonin.  I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself, but be aware of the effects of alcohol, and pace yourself.


Tip 6 – Budget your spending.  Easy to say, not very easy to do!  Make a budget, and stick to it.  Be in control of your finances, rather than beginning the new year unsure of how much you’ve spent, and on what.

Tip 7 – Question your thoughts.  When we’re anxious, our brain begins to conjure up all kinds of irrational and outlandish ideas, many of which are unrealistic and will never happen anyway.  Is it really going to be such a disaster if Christmas lunch is 20 minutes late, and will anybody actually notice?


Tip 8 – Enjoy yourself.  Christmas is a time to visit relatives, see friends, relax and reflect on the past year.  Perfection is almost never needed, so try not to apply too much pressure and have a fabulous stress-free festive season!


There you have it. A recipe, not just for a tension-free Christmas but also a less stressful end of year.

Our work … and why.

Our work … and why.

Lisa Wolfe and Associates are specialists in clinical hypnosis, psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness and psychology.
We are experts in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in particular, its impact on professionals in specific fields such as the armed forces, emergency services and midwives, and also on the LGBTQ community.
Our team are veterans or serving members of the armed forces, with operational and overseas service experience. We understand the culture, mindset and language used, which we find dramatically reduces the initial barriers experienced by clients accessing services.
A lack of awareness around PTSD and the best treatment options available puts pressure on the NHS and social services. We hope that the research we are doing will help us influence Government, the NHS and Social Service providers in their financial decision making.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a term used to describe a combination of debilitating symptoms experienced by someone who has suffered significant distress, trauma or adversity. PTSD is NOT just a military illness. Whether you’ve received a clinical diagnosis of PTSD or not, the actual feelings, thoughts and symptoms are the same. We can offer relief to the sufferer, their families and friends. With the right treatment, together with help and support, a full recovery is absolutely possible. There is a way forward, and there is hope.
We are passionate about the mental wellbeing of people from all walks of life, so, alongside our clinical practice and research, we run educational programmes for businesses, schools and other organisations to promote mental health awareness and educate people in their mental wellbeing, with particular emphasis on veteran’s mental health.
You can contact us on 07402 868 658.
What is STRESS?

What is STRESS?

We all know what it’s like to feel stressed, but it’s not easy to pin down exactly what stress means. When we say things like “this is stressful” or “I’m stressed”, we might be talking about:
• Situations or events that put pressure on us – for example, times where we have lots to do and think about, or don’t have much control over what happens.
• Our reaction to being placed under pressure – the feelings we get when we have demands placed on us that we find difficult to cope with.
It’s overwhelming, and perhaps you’re starting to feel like you’re wading through treacle?
Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. And, when you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do.
Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. In fact, common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.
You may feel anxious, irritable or low in self esteem, and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more or act unreasonably.
You may also experience headaches, muscle tension or pain, or dizziness.
Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called “fight or flight” response.
There’s no medical definition of stress, and there’s a long history of debate as to whether stress is the cause of problems or the result of them. If you’re suffering from stress however, this won’t matter too much to you. What will matter is how you feel, behave and think, and this can make it difficult for you to work out what causes your feelings of stress, or how to deal with them. But whatever your personal definition of stress is, it’s likely that you can learn to manage your stress better by:
• managing external pressures, so stressful situations don’t seem to happen to you quite so often
• developing your emotional resilience, so you’re better at coping with tough situations when they do happen and don’t feel quite so stressed

Being under pressure is a normal part of life.

Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn’t addressed. It’s important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking. There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques.

Clinical hypnotherapy is an excellent way of reducing stress levels, as this solution-focused practise helps you to understand why you feel as you do, how you feel as you do, and more importantly, what you can do to stop feeling as you do, helping you to make a proper assessment of current situations and essentially stress less.

Stress can be a useful drive that helps you take action, feel more energised and get results. But if you often become overwhelmed by stress, these feelings could start to be a problem for you.
Stress isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis, but it’s closely linked to your mental health in two important ways:
• Stress can cause mental health problems, and make existing problems worse. For example, if you often struggle to manage feelings of stress, you might develop a mental health problem like anxiety or depression.
• Mental health problems can cause stress. You might find coping with the day-to-day symptoms of your mental health problem, as well as potentially needing to manage medication, heath care appointments or treatments, can become extra sources of stress.
This can start to feel like a vicious circle, and it might be hard to see where stress ends and your mental health problem begins.
Why does stress affect me physically?
You might find that your first clues about being stressed are physical signs, like tiredness, headaches, niggles in your shoulders or back, or an upset stomach.
This could be because when we feel stressed emotionally, our bodies release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. This is the body’s automatic way of preparing to respond to a threat (sometimes called the ‘fight or flight’ response). If you’re often stressed then you’re probably producing high levels of these hormones, which can make you feel physically unwell and could affect your health in the longer term.
To help you stress less and ease whatever is on your mind, get in touch with me to discuss ways in which we can work together to help you. You can contact me by calling or texting me on 07402 868 658.