12 Tips for 12 Days


12 Tips for 12 DaysDrummers drumming. Pipers piping. Lords a leaping… No wonder people find Christmas stressful! But just ahead of the twelve days, here are twelve ways to reduce stress and enjoy a cooler, calmer Crimbo. Hope it’s a good one!

Jaws: Our jaws carry more tension than many people realise! But you might be surprised at how easy it is to relieve any tension that’s there. Use your fingers to gently locate the hinge of your jaw near the middle of your cheeks. Once you’ve found the join, open and close your mouth slowly, simultaneously massaging the area before using your fingers and thumbs to gently massage your jaw line, too.

Jaws 2: Your jaw also benefits from being left to hang open gormlessly for a minute or so! Just open your mouth so that it’s comfortably loose and sit like that for a few minutes. Finally, some places sell a weird-looking wishbone-shaped jaw massager! We think they’re terrific; give one a go if you know you have a clenched jaw a lot of the time.

Gums: If you watch a lot of sport, you might notice a number of professional athletes chewing gum before a match, game or event. Believe it or not, that’s because of the way we’ve evolved! Our primitive ancestors’ bodies would begin to shut down their longer-term survival systems when in immediate danger… They didn’t need to eat whilst fighting off predators! We still do this, but nowadays the perceived dangers are seldom really life-threatening. Nevertheless, our digestive systems are one of the first things to stop working when we’re tense… That’s why so many people experience tightness in the throat or butterflies in the stomach when they feel nervous…

But interestingly, these symptoms can be reversed. If you’re in a stressful situation, chewing a piece of gum can help! We tend to go for a sugar-free brand but, in any case, when you chew, your brain registers the action and comprehends that your body must prepare to digest food… It concludes that, if you’re eating, there can be no real reason to feel nervous. Indeed, many people who chew gum find their nerves dissipate almost immediately – try it!

Tell them about the honey, mummy: Honey with a high-manuka content is, reputedly, excellent for your health; there’s evidence that it helps treat numerous things when consumed. In particular, it aids digestive health, increases immunity and boosts energy! But we also find that a spoonful of honey works as a stress buster, with some reports going so far as to suggest that it reduces inflammation in the brain to reduce anxiety.

Eat Dark Chocolate: We’ve written a whole info sheet on this so we’re not going to go into detail here… Suffice to say, there are studies that say dark chocolate can be good for you! What other excuse do you need?! Read more about it here:  https://www.backinshape.co.uk/chocolate/

Don’t have cross words: do crosswords! We can’t remember the surname of the man who invented the crossword puzzle but it was W, something, something, something, E… In any case, some people believe that doing a crossword or Suduko puzzle simply takes your mind off your worries. It appears there’s more to it, though. Some researchers believe that, in doing a puzzle, you’re bringing creative and logical thinking to your mind in a way that balances more emotional thinking.

10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1… Almost all therapists, and most trained communicators, know the value of scaling. It’s another technique that brings logic into emotional states so that they begin to dissipate. But this easy visualisation technique lets you take it a step further… When you want to relax a little, find somewhere quiet to concentrate. Rate your sense of stress on a scale from 0 – 10, with 0 being absolute calm and 10 being uncontrollable rage. Picture yourself stood on that number with the higher numbers behind you…

Now, in your imagination, start walking down towards the lower numbers! Breathe in deeply as you do, and progress your relaxation by saying, out loud or in your head, things like “I can feel my neck muscles relaxing as I come down to a six… The next number is five. I can relax more at five as I massage my jaw…” etc. Continue counting down in this way until you feel more collected.

Lemon Aid: There are a few ways a sense of smell helps people chill out. For example, the smell of citrus fruits appears to reduce our stress levels! Some evidence suggests it might be because of a connection with vitamin C; some suggest that smelling citrus fruits has an effect on the stress hormone norepinephrine. In any case, sniffing lemons, limes and oranges – or even aromatherapy products that smell like them – appears to help people keep calm and carry on!

Better Latte Than Never: Similarly, why not wake up and smell the coffee? It seems that the aroma of coffee also helps reduce stress hormones. Just don’t get your nose too close to the scalding liquid – that is not at all relaxing!

Laughter – the best medicine? It’s trite but it may be true! There are numerous studies that show laughing helps beat stress – and why wouldn’t it? Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, and boosts T cells which make you feel good and aid your immune system respectively. Laughter reduces stress-hormone levels, burns calories and appears to lower blood pressure as well! If it’s all getting on top of you, take a break and pop on a DVD of a sitcom that makes you laugh.

Make time for yourself in the morning: Even if it means setting your alarm a few minutes early, wake up and use ten minutes of time to really relax first thing… Whether you do Yoga, Pilates, self-hypnosis, read a book or just lie somewhere comfortable and let your mind wander, you might be surprised at the difference it makes to your sense of self.

And make time for yourself at night! This relaxation technique works better when used in conjunction with the preceding one – like bookends to your day. Now some people use these final ten minutes to review their activities, but that’s not what we’re recommending. Rather, we suggest you do the same as you did in the morning: relax! Unwind… Let your mind drift. Breathe a little more deeply and notice any tense parts of your body as they begin to feel more calm!

So there you have it: twelve tips which take between a minute and thirty minutes each to try. We hope you don’t need any of them but, if you do, relax quickly and have a very Merry Christmas.