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Top Tip for Staying Calm at Christmas

Stressed at Christmas

Love it or dread it, Christmas season is here again. Isn’t it a shame that it can be such a stressful time for so many people – obligations, expectations, family tradition and so on.

There is pressure to overindulge – food, alcohol, presents, overspend, over-party, be happy and excited, be organised, generous and welcoming.

It is difficult to get our own needs met when obligations become deeply entrenched and breaking tradition can mean disappointing others and feeling selfish.

No wonder we can end up feeling stressed, irritable or exhausted and still feel like we must keep going.

Does this sound familiar? If so, next time you feel frazzled, anxious, irritated or ready to explode, try this wonderfully easy to learn calming technique.

Breathe in to the count of 7 and breathe out again to the count of 11. That’s it!

Try to breathe out slowly as if breathing through a straw.

Breathe deeply from the diaphragm (you should be able to feel your tummy expand as it fills with air and deflate as you breathe out).

You will feel a difference after a few breathes but if you can spare 5 -10 minutes that is even better.

Breathing techniques work by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. You may have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response, the Parasympathetic Nervous System is simply the opposite of that (‘fight or flight’ is the term for the activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System when we perceive ourselves to be under threat). 7:11 breathing lowers blood pressure and heart rate slows – emotions are calmed in the process.

It is the out-breath that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, so that any breathing technique with a longer out-breath works more effectively in bringing about relaxation.

Practising 7:11 breathing a few times a day will lower your overall stress levels in the long term.

Use this simple breathing technique to become an oasis of calm, no matter what storms Christmas season blows your way.

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