Managing Christmas stress and expectations with Dr Nancy Priston

Dr Nancy Priston manages her Christmas stress and expectations with the help of her cats

Dr Nancy Priston will take time to de-stress with her cats at home this Christmas

One of the reasons I was delighted to support Cancer Support UK as an Ambassador is that the charity has a very clear purpose to support anyone impacted by cancer and this is something I wanted to champion.

As we head into the busy holiday season, many people are thinking of celebrating and having fun, but for someone living with or beyond cancer, it can be a really stressful and challenging time.

I thought it could be helpful to share some of the tips I give to my clients at this time of year, to help combat some of this stress and manage expectations.

As always, anyone who has any underlying health issues should always seek guidance from their GP or consultant when it comes to changes in exercise and diet. Plus, it’s always important to remember that we are all unique, so different approaches will vary according to an individual’s circumstances.

These are just my ideas, which you may find helpful. You can try them out as they are or adapt them to help support your goals. You may find that at this time of year, when stress levels can increase, it’s easy to be sidetracked from your health and fitness plans.

However, even just thinking about how you might approach your health, can not only make you feel better, but also help support your goals and keep you on track.

#1 Avoid financial stress by managing your spending

Gift buying and entertainment costs can spiral quickly out of control. Using a card to ‘tap and buy’ or just wafting your phone over a terminal doesn’t help, so how about trying a traditional approach? Make a budget and limit spending by only taking cash on shopping trips or load it onto a separate debit card. Make one financial decision at a time to avoid losing willpower and overspending. Remember your relationships with friends and family are more important than material objects.

#2 Manage expectations

Wanting things to be perfect can lead to more stress. Dinner being late or a less than perfect Christmas tree won’t ruin your day – it may even give you fond memories to laugh about. Be realistic with children – they don’t need everything on their list. Christmas is about being together, so plan lots of fun family activities.

#3 Take time out

Factor in some time out for yourself – a bath, watching a movie, reading or a walk. You will feel better and be less likely to take your stress out on the rest of the family, too.

#4 Don’t fall totally off the wagon

If you do find yourself overindulging, just remember, one day of indulgence won’t make you pile on the weight. You can get back on track the next day, but try not to overconsume for a month. Plan ahead, eat well outside events and stay active. For more tips, check out my article from last year.

#5 Go for a walk to reduce stress

Studies show physical activity reduces the brain’s response to stress, even more so if you do it with other people (by 26%). So, try to fit a walk in to your day, even if it means walking to work, doing the school pick-up, or just around the block.

Nancy Priston, cuddling one of her cats, believes laughter is a great way to manage stress

Nancy Priston believes laughter is a great stress reliever (and cats)

#6 Have fun to relieve stress

Laughter is a fabulous stress reliever. It releases endorphins, boosts circulation, helps muscles relax and reduces physical symptoms of stress. Make sure you have some fun – whether it’s watching your favourite movie, telling jokes with relatives, or enjoying a fun activity with friends or family.

At the end of the day remember, it’s just ONE day, it doesn’t define you or your life. Your friends and family are there all year round and if things don’t go as planned, you can always get together in January or February instead 🙂.

Don’t forget, Cancer Support UK offers emotional support through its free Cancer Coach programme, for anyone over 18, who has completed their treatment following a stage 1-3 cancer diagnosis. The programme offers peer group support, as well as tools and strategies to help you manage challenging emotions. So if you are struggling to move forwards, contact the Cancer Coach team for a chat and to book a place.

So, there you have it – a little plan to help you plan… if you want to. Whatever you decide to do or not do, I hope you enjoy yourself.

Take care.

Nancy xx