Written by Charlotte Campbell
Get prepared for a Christmas Dinner: 5 Relaxing Exercises You Must Know
The songs tell us that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But, for those of us that struggle with Christmas dinner conversation, it can be something of a feat of endurance.
But fear not, festive fretters! Exercise can help. Here are our top 5 relaxing exercises you can do to calm yourself in even the most demanding of dinner scenarios.
If you’ve got weeks to prepare… try yoga
Yoga classes are hosted everywhere from high end gyms to church halls and local dance schools, so with a bit of googling you should find a class wherever your festivities may be. Yoga is well known as one of the most relaxing forms of exercises, and with good cause.
Yoga combines meditation, stretching and breathing exercises to establish feelings of wellbeing and calmness in participants. Some scientists claim that the prolonged poses work the logical part of our brain – the same part that rationalises and calms us down when we are stressed. Thus, a stronger logical mind, the quicker we are to chill out when we are worrying needlessly. For example, when your sister eats the piece of turkey you had your eye on, you can just let out a smile filled with zen.
If you’ve got days to prepare… try swimming
Getting to your local pool or lido can be pretty much impossible on Christmas day, but in the lead up to the festivities exercising in the water can de-stress your mind and body.
In addition to being great aerobic exercises that will pump feel good endorphins round your body, swimming is very gentle on your joints. So, you can indulge in some relaxing exercise without worrying about feeling too stiff at the Christmas dinner table.
If you’ve got hours to prepare… try running
Running is a versatile and simple exercise that you can access almost anywhere. If you’re away from home, pack your trainers and head for a run around the area you’re staying in. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America report that just five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
If you’ve got minutes to prepare… try stretching
Simple stretching exercises are a great way to release any built-up tension you’re harboring.
An easy one to start with is slowly curling your body downward, letting your head droop, then your neck and shoulders, your upper back, core, hips, letting your arms dangle, then bending your knees until you are totally loose. Then, reverse the process upwards. Slowly straighten your legs, torso, back and shoulders and raise your arms above your head until you are stretching your whole body as though lifted by a string attached to your finger tips and the top of your head.
Another comforting stretch is to reach your arms out to your sides as far as you can, and then curl your arms back around your shoulders as though giving yourself a hug. Repeat this until you start feeling relaxed.
If you’re in the thick of it… try breathing
Sounds simple, but taking a moment in the bathroom to breathe properly can really bring your tension levels down.
Breathe in deeply through your nose. You should feel your belly expanding as you breathe using your diaphragm. Now breathe out in short puffs until your lungs are empty. Now breathe in deeply again through your nose, and breathe out slowly through your mouth.
Sometimes, just taking time to do something so simple and give you a chance to clear your head if the dinner debates get on top of you.