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5 ways to deal with festive stress

In the run-up to the silly season, we give you some stress-busting tips to help you stay cool.

In the run-up to the silly season it is supposed to be all joy, family and mistletoe, but the holidays can also mean lots of stress, with parties to plan, relatives to entertain and kids to buy gifts for.

And it is not just around this time of year that we have to cope with stress. Even for the recently retired, supposedly free of job stress, deadlines and commuting, there is still pressure from family, finances and other sources. So here are five stress-busting options for when you feel that you are on the verge of getting a bit too worked up.

1. Puzzling it out

We all love a good puzzle page – even in the print edition of Active Retirees – but these mind games are also like a mind massage: they help keep your brain active and healthy. Concentrating on a crossword or Sudoku helps you forget about your stresses and it can distract you if you tend to be a worrier. It is fun and it is good for you and keeps your mind alert and ready for busting stress.

2. Talking it out

If your stress is related to a particular issue such as bereavement or financial worries it can be better to share the burden. Search your local area for support groups for those who have lost a partner, or go and see a financial advisor and talk through your concerns. A problem shared is a problem halved, after all.

3. Make a furry friend

Studies have shown that pets tend to lower stress; we just seem to be more mentally relaxed knowing we have an animal companion. But for retirees, you have to be very careful when considering this option. As we age we have to make sure we are physically able to care for an animal and that there is someone to help out so that the pet is not more stress to add to your plate.

4. Take a breather

Meditation is a sure way to beat stress. The great thing is that it requires no equipment or special skills; you just need to learn to calm your mind. That sounds simple, but the building blocks are just trying to be more present and to concentrate on your breathing. You will be surprised how easy it is to reduce stress with just a few deep, well-controlled intakes of breaths. Some therapists call it a “body flop”; a conscious relaxing of all your body via breathing. Check out podcasts or online classes to learn a method that suits you.

5. Stay active

You fight stress better when your body is in good shape. That does not mean a million trips to the gym; just making sure that you regularly exercise your body and eat healthy meals. Consider some calmer exercises like yoga or tai chi and qi gong – these regimens also have you consider your breathing and keep you in the moment, like meditation and exercise rolled into one.

Don’t tear your hair out this holiday season. The Christmas period should be full of love, not stress. Keep mindful of your stress levels and have a few simple techniques up your sleeve to make sure you banish any bad thoughts.