Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year...or so we are constantly told. And while it's true that spending time with friends and family, enjoying sumptuous food and drink, decorating your home with foliage and lights, singing, playing games, winter walks and opening presents all combine to create profound joy and social bonding, there is often an undeniable substrata of tension and worry. There are numerous ways to reduce anxiety naturally, and we've listed some below.
The host of pressures that accompany the festive period can be a huge strain that can take much of the joy out of the process, especially for women and mothers. From the domestic and financial burden, to the managing of challenging family dynamics, not to mention all the cooking, cleaning, shopping and preparing in an attempt to meet expectations on all fronts.
It's wise to go into the holidays with your eyes wide open and carve out time to look after yourself and replenish those drained reserves. Here's a list of six self-care tips that will help you stay grounded, enjoy, and cherish time with loved ones.
1. A window of silence each day
Intentionally set time for yourself. Even 15 minutes at the start of each day to write in a journal, meditate, do some yoga or simply light some candles and be still and silent will calm frazzled nerves, and help you to gather and centre yourself in preparation for the day ahead. According to this article, just five minutes of silence each day has been proven to improve mental wellbeing, energy levels, performance and clarity.
2. Beauty Ritual - the bathroom as retreat
The little lock on your bathroom door is a godsend. Tell everyone you are going for a bath, light a candle and treat yourself to some serious unhurried self indulgence. At A.S.APOTHECARY we strongly advocate the beauty ritual as a moment to give to oneself, as well as a way to glowing skin. Relax and allow your pores to open in a hot bath, then take your time with a DIY facial. Use a natural skincare range, and beautifully scented, toxin free products: a green face mask, therapeutic cleansing oil and a mini massage with a natural, face cream for dry skin or winter skin or a rich beauty balm are all you need. Then return to the festive hubbub refreshed and glowing.
Our Little Box of Indulgence contains everything you need for a delightful beauty ritual at home.
3. Fresh air and exercise
Exercise is often the first thing that gets neglected when your schedule looks full to bursting and there are children and family to care for, feed and entertain. But a little burst of aerobic exercise and some decent lungfulls of fresh air will increase seratonin and naturally ease anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. Make a realistic exercise routine before guests arrive, if it appears set in stone, (nobody needs to know it isn't!) everyone else will accept that's what happens. Recruiting children, partners and relatives into some lovely brisk winter walks will be good for everyone's mood – according to this article, just 20 minutes of exercise a day will reduce stress and make you considerably happier.
4. Bust the wonder-woman myth and ask for help
Perfectionism, and the desire to be 100 percent self-sufficient are attitudes that are not good for your mental or physical health. The idealised image of the woman who can do it all, and exceptionally well, is damaging on so many fronts. Lower your expectations, be kind to yourself and ask people to help. If you remind yourself that mostly people love to help and feel included, it's easier to delegate, it's also more fun.
5. Natural remedies
There are a number of natural remedies and products you can use to reduce anxiety and emotional tension over the Christmas holidays. Buy fresh from somewhere like Neal's Yard and make cups of really good quality chamomile or peppermint tea to soothe you, relax muscles and reduce irritability. Drop essentials oils into a burner to calm the mood and create a delightfully scented home. Lavender, rose, ylang ylang, chamomile, bergamot and frankincense smell divine and are all wonderful for stress, depression and tension.
Our own Calm & Tranquil therapeutic balm has been designed specifically to calm the nerves, relieve anxiety, and restore clarity and balance with numerous active essential oils and plant ingredients to alleviate panic and lift the mood.
6. Seek inspiration from words
Reaching for your favourite soulful writer in the midst of emotional tension can be a huge solace and a great way to feed the mind and help you to reconnect to your true values during challenging times. Whether it's the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the wisdom of Pema Chodron, the mystical musings of Rumi or Blake - or even your favourite novelist, grabbing half an hour to escape with some excellent writing is a superb tonic for the mind and spirit.