It’s hard to avoid stress at Christmas, even though we may not be aware of it’s cause.
Tiredness, general overindulgence, lack of exercise and dreading the 24 hours with your parents or in-laws can all lead to stress, according to the researchers.
The complete breakdown of our normal routines means we often fail to do many of our regular stress-busting activities such as exercise, eating well, and relaxing with friends.
Christmas can also be a sad time. It’s the time when all those things you’ve been keeping a lid on all year float to the surface, such as the loss of a loved one.
Dr Orla Dunn, senior lecturer in health psychology at Coventry, added that there were health risks at Christmas too.
“In terms of the health effects of stress, people who spend weeks worrying about Christmas can suffer a breakdown in their immune system, leaving them susceptible to colds. Coming into contact with more people at Christmas exposes people to more infections. Eating fattening foods, taking less exercise and stressful situations between family members can really take its toll on your health.”
Surprised at the lack of research on the effects of Christmas on mental well-being, the Coventry team has come up with some tips on how to avoid getting overly stressed at Christmas.
• Plan ahead to minimise the pressure – not just the shopping, finances and cooking, but the stress as well. This means recognising that you will get stressed and talking it over with those closest to you
• Try not to take things too seriously. Keep things simple; practical relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, is one way to tackle stress
• Give yourself spending limits
• Try to take time out for yourself, and don’t try to do everything on your own
• Don’t have unrealistic expectations
Why not book one of our Wine, Dine and Stay nights for January or even February, to give yourself an affordable treat to look forward to, and some vital ‘me’ time after all the stress and hard work of Christmas is over!