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It’s CHRIIIIIIIISTMAAAAAS!!!!!

A time of peace and love and joy, right?

Or, maybe you feel it is more a time of excess and busyness and stress, stress, STRESS!?!

I know so many of us end up getting swept up into a stressful whirlwind of shopping and wrapping and cooking…..

Our diaries get booked up with parties and meet-ups and we end up eating and drinking much more than we usually do. This coupled with less sleep & less time for exercise means we can start to feel sluggish and weary and not really so sparkly or merry or bright…

Well, I don’t think it needs to be just so stressful. I believe it really CAN be a time of peace, love and joy!

Here are my TOP TIPS to help you stay sane and keep your sparkle through the festive season!

S SLOW DOWN! Stop rushing around in a crazy frenzy! Take a moment. Stop. I know we all have a lot to do and we feel that time is running out… but rushing around does not actually help us get things done any quicker. All it does is raise our cortisol levels and add to the feelings of stress within our system! When we feel stressed it can be harder to think straight and more difficult to make decisions which ultimately makes us less efficient and means that things will take longer than they should or could! So let’s give ourselves a helping hand and simply slow down!

P PAUSE! I encourage you to take a break from it all! This could be stopping for a cup of tea or coffee while you are out shopping and just taking a moment to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Or it could be deciding to take a day (or maybe just an hour or so!) off from thinking about all the things you have to get or do! Distract yourself with a good movie or a catch up with a friend and call it a Christmas free zone! Or take some time out to meditate. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes, your brain and your body will still feel the benefits and you will go back to your tasks and to-do lists with renewed energy and gusto.

A ALLOW YOURSELF TO SAY NO! This is so much harder than it sounds but so so important! Allow yourself to say “no” to what doesn’t serve you, especially at this time of year when you are already so stretched! Make sure that you will really enjoy any festive socials or gatherings you commit to. Don’t feel pressured into going to your work do if you really don’t enjoy them. Don’t feel that you have to visit Santa’s grotto if you really can’t face the queues or you simply can’t afford it. Don’t feel that you have to buy EVERYTHING your children ask for! Allow yourself to say “no” to the alcohol if you simply can’t face another hangover… Lose the guilt! It’s ok not to do it all at Christmas… it doesn’t make you scrooge, it just means you are looking after yourself.

R REST! Get to bed early when you can. Never underestimate how important sleep is. Research has shown that our bodies require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue and balance hormones. We can become forgetful and irritable and even become more susceptible to colds and viruses as our immune system can be impacted by insufficient sleep. So, if you find you have a few more late nights this month, try getting to bed earlier on the nights that you don’t have plans to make up for it. You will function more efficiently as a result!

K KEEP IT SIMPLE! Let’s not overcomplicate Christmas. Lots of us have this desire to make everything PERFECT! This yearning is of course magnified by the endless images we see around us of the perfect Christmas scene with tastefully decorated trees, amazing feasts and families smiling together in their beautiful, warm, Christmassy houses! How about we give ourselves a break?! It’s ok if we aren’t quite able to produce a spread like Nigella or Jamie! It’s ok if our tree looks like it was decorated by a five year old (even if it wasn’t!)! Let’s keep things simple. Focus on what is really important to you and don’t let yourself get caught up in the hype of elaborate cuisine and ridiculous gifts!

L LISTS! I love a good list! That feeling when you tick off the last item….there’s nothing quite like it! I am a firm believer in writing things down. Once you get it down onto paper, your poor, overloaded head no longer needs to remember it! You can relax knowing that you can simply check back to your list to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. So don’t delay, get it all out of your head and write those lists!!

E EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY! My last top tip is to let loose and ENJOY this time! Maybe not the usual advice from a Pilates and Mindfulness advocate, but hey ho! I believe that there are times to be strict, controlled and focussed on your health and then there are times when you need to just let go and relax. Often I find that if people officially allow themselves to enjoy Christmas without worrying about counting calories or hitting their step count, they actually manage to keep a greater level of control over themselves than they expect! So ditch the diet for a bit, throw on your sparkliest outfit, put on some makeup and enjoy this magical time! It’s ok to party! It doesn’t mean you are “off the wagon” or “being bad”… you are simply embracing this time! Lose the guilt and savour every moment 🙂

And so with that I wish you all a wonderfully MERRY CHRISTMAS!

May your mood be light and your sparkle be bright!

Peace, love and joy to all!

Emily xx