Summer has definitely arrived in Perth!

We all can enjoy the holiday season – wonderful weather (usually), perhaps our family members are visiting, and there is plenty to eat. We can see relatives who we have not seen for several months or years, and catch up with news.

However, it can also be a time of stress. Perhaps relatives have all decided to visit your home this year, and you are not accustomed to cooking for such large numbers of people. Perhaps visiting relatives mean that your home is crowded.

On the other hand, perhaps you are busy planning time away from home, and need to ensure all the last minute preparations are in place.

If you feel that you would like some relief from all the excitement, there are several methods of managing the stress:-

1. Use square breathing. What’s square breathing you may ask…well, it means that you take an in-breath for (e.g.) 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds and then wait 4 seconds before breathing in again. If 4 seconds does not suit you, you can choose another duration. This calms most people very quickly.

Square breathing diagram - Breathe-in-for-4-seconds

2. Try progressive relaxation. Find a spare ten minutes and a quiet place. Start by imagining your feet are relaxing, then work your way up gradually to your waist, down your arms, and up to your head, relaxing each muscle group. Imagine the muscles getting warm and heavy – a sign of relaxation. By the time you reach the muscles around your scalp, eyes, and jaw, you may well be asleep, and then someone else will have to do whatever was stressing you out (only joking!).

3. Ask your family or friends to help with preparations for the festive season – whether this means helping you to buy presents for your children, helping cook the turkey or ham on Christmas Day, or helping in planning your holiday. Enlist several helpers, and you can stand back and oversee the activities.

4. See the humour in whatever you are doing. Laughter can decrease stress hormones.

5. Find time for some exercise – even a 20 minute walk can relax you.

6. Spend time with a pet. If you have a dog or cat, why not give it a cuddle or encourage it to curl up in your lap. Alternatively, take your dog for a walk. Even if your pet is a goldfish, it has been shown to be therapeutic and relaxing to watch the fish swim around the bowl or pond.

7. Take up art – make your own Christmas or New Year cards. The materials are available from a craft shop, and you can have fun creating individual cards for your friends and relatives.

8. Think of all the good things in your life (children, friends, other family), and, for a few minutes, consider how grateful you are for them (even if they ARE the cause of your stress).

If you would like some help with managing stress, please feel free to call me on 0403 932311 or email for a no-obligation chat.

Best wishes for a happy and restful festive season!

© Lisa Billingham, 2019

Please note – this post does not provide medical advice, and is solely for general education. If you have any type of medical condition, please seek advice from a medical professional. Thank you! 

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