Christmas may never have been perfect, but it was a lot closer to being so when we were younger. This time of year isn’t easy for so many, for so many reasons. In adult life Christmas can bring strains, stresses and an array of mental or emotional challenges. It doesn’t help that in the Northern hemisphere the days are short and the nights are long, the temperature is low and we can only dream of a more accommodating environment. The upcoming turn of the year doesn’t always promise anything better than what you might be experiencing now.


If Christmas invokes anxiety about how the holidays are supposed to be spent and how great they must necessarily be, then it’s time to shift your expectations and cease making any comparisons to a what a greeting card ideal of Christmas may be. After all “Comparison is the thief of joy.” President T. Roosevelt said that and “expectation is the devil of enjoyment”, I said that. If you can take each part of the day (morning, noon and night) as it comes, without expectations, then there’s likely to be far less disappointments. 


Forget the unimportant stuff. If you hoped you would install a Santa sled with his eight reindeer on your roof, or it turns out you didn’t order a big enough turkey, so what. Don’t let the pressure of the event spoil the performance, or hamper your festive spirit accordingly. If you’re still bound to the idea of getting all the Christmas crockery or those magnificent, once-a-year decorations out of the attic in time to dust them off, then ask for help and avoid over-stretching yourself. 


Equally don’t worry about things that are beyond your control. If Mum and Dad, or Dad and brother have a shouting fest every year and this is upsetting, realise there’s not that much you can ever really do about it. You can’t control them, but you can choose how you react to the situation. We’ve all hoped it would snow on Christmas Day for years, but we realised a long time ago that there’s nothing we can do about it.


If it’s simply the pressure of being inside too long, feeling overfed or any inter-family tension, there’s nothing better than stepping outside to clear your head with some movement and exercise. Alternatively you may be bored or lonely, in need of something to do, to lift your mood and enhance your self-esteem. 


There is nothing more emotionally re-centering and meditative than shadow boxing or some high-intensity, body-weight exercise to soothe the seasonal strains and anxieties. When the body is busy, the mind is empty. The exercise gifts you a mental break from the stress and the mental clarity or perspective on how best to handle any given stressful situation the next time it arises. When you’re done with moving, breathing and sweating, you will feel transformed physically, emotionally and mentally. 


One of the many neurotransmitters (aka hormones) released in your body after exercise, is norepinephrine. This little scientific wonder improves cognition and clarity of thought clouded by stressful events. Exercise encourages the central and sympathetic nervous systems work together, improving the body’s ability to respond to stress. Exercise further helps balance stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. 


In conclusion, if Christmas is either emotionally stressful or lonely, get yourself moving and pave the way to equanimity.


 Boxing is as much mental as physical. In keeping with the fact that physical ability is not enough to ensure success, REAL fights for enhanced mental health and wellbeing through boxing and physical training.

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