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December 15, 2022
Managing the stress of the festive season
Christmas can be particularly stressful. It’s not just the practical things like presents, cards and parties, it’s also the emotional turmoil of families and friends, and the ‘Insta-perfect’ time we’re all supposed to be having. It’s no wonder that all that pressure can dampen our enthusiasm for the festivities and leave us exhausted. So, what can we do to better manage the stresses and keep up our energy levels?
The first thing to say is that while we may be busy with a long to-do list, we can choose whether to feel anxious about that, or excited. I know what you’re thinking, no one feels excited about a long list of chores, but what we do know is that how we feel is completely within our control. Let me explain …
We can be response-able
Negative emotions are not something that just happen to us, we have created them. The pounding heart, the churning stomach are all created by us. And if we created them, we can reverse them.
Breathing brings coherence
The first step in controlling that feeling that things are getting out of control is to breathe. Rhythmic (not deep) breathing enables us to control our Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and that brings a more coherent, calmer state in which we can begin to control our emotions.
Choose a more positive emotion
Once we have controlled our physiology with breathing, we can then learn to identify and shift our emotional state. This is the real game changer. Being able to move from anxiety to excitement for example, will enable you to enjoy the festive season so much more. Not only that, but you’ll find that your positive emotional state will be infectious for others, and they’ll start to experience the same emotion a you.
Finally, in addition to the above, plan, prioritise and share the load. Writing down all those things that you’re trying to keep in your head, will reduce some of that anxiety that you’re going to forget something. But remember to start that list when you’ve become response-able – not when you’re in a panic. Breathe, shift your emotional state and then write that list. You’ll find you’re much less likely to forget something when your brain is no longer at risk of shutting down because your HRV is so chaotic.
That’s our Christmas gift to you all. Have a wonderful time everyone.
A physician and neuroscientist, Dr. Alan Watkins is recognised as an international expert on leadership and human performance.
Over the years he has coached thousands of individuals to greater levels of performance, transformed organisational cultures and helped leaders discover new ways to succeed. Alan has become a confidant to many of the world’s top leaders over the past 22 years.Read bio