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  • Writer's picturePhilippa Evans

And breathe... to overcome the overwhelm

The countdown is on, and even if you’re trying not to get swept up in the crazy Christmas season, the pressure and overwhelm might well be creeping in.

Perhaps your diary is filling up, the days left to buy presents are dwindling, and the list of ‘must-do’s’ to create the perfect day is growing. All on top of trying to be the most organised, un-flappable and thoughtful person you can be. It's no wonder stress levels can increase.

So here are five tips that might help you to overcome the overwhelm that this time of year can bring.

1. Check in with your expectations. Stress can come from the gap between your expectations and the reality. Be realistic about how you want your Christmas to be and try not to set too high an expectation of the ‘perfect’ day. Notice and accept how you feel, then resolve not to sweat the small stuff. Does it really matter if the carrots are a little over-cooked, or you run out of time to add ribbon to every present you wrap? Focus on enjoying the things that make your Christmas special and let go of the things that really don’t matter.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others. We might often assume that everyone else is having the perfect time at Christmas – getting along, having everything they want, and perfectly managing all the demands placed on them. Social media makes it easy to compare ourselves to others. But the reality is that most of what we see is an air-brushed image which is nothing like real life. This can leave us feeling a little inadequate. So, give yourself some compassion and create your own personal style of Christmas.

3. Eat for energy to fuel yourself through the busy days. Start with a protein-rich breakfast – eggs, a smoothie with yoghurt, or porridge with nuts and seeds to help keep your energy levels high all morning. Keep hydrated to avoid headaches and energy dips, and to increase concentration and alertness. Finally, pack in those veggies, full of amazing nutrients that will give you a long lasting energy boost. Go on…you know you want those sprouts!

4. Move more! You might not be able to fit in structured activity into your day, so just aim to move a little more. Dance in the kitchen while cooking the turkey, bundle up and go for a brisk walk or play some active games with your friends or family. Do whatever makes you feel good. You’ll get the benefits of reduced stress and increased endorphins which will leave you with a feel good factor!

5. Don’t forget to breathe… take a moment alone each day to practise deep breathing. A technique called box breathing can help you feel calmer and more relaxed. Here’s how. Sit up straight and take a deep breath slowly in, counting to four. Hold for four seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth counting to four. Repeat for four breaths. This box breathing method (also called four square breathing) slows down your breathing, calms your nervous system and decreases stress in your body.

Finally, remember to be kind to yourself, indulge a little, and with one of two of these tips, have yourself a merry little Christmas!

If you feel you would benefit from some extra support in making healthy food and activity choices and building healthier habits for the year ahead, contact me for a chat or to ask any questions here. I provide personalised nutrition and lifestyle support to help you take simple, realistic and enjoyable action steps for your long-term health. Find out more at and make 2023 your healthiest year yet!

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