Dr. Akhtar     Mr. Hedger 


Written by Catherine Meyers for Doctify

With the holidays right around the corner, you may start noticing yourself losing some sleep and becoming more stressed. We all love the festive season but it can be very stressful sometimes. We asked two of our specialists, Mr Alexander Hedger an accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapist (CBT) and Ms Menaz Akhtar, a renowned psychologist, what could be done on a daily basis to help beat the stress that the festive season tends to bring on!

1. Plan ahead

When looking forward to the holidays, it may seem tempting to put off tasks until the very last minute. Dr. Akhtar recommends, instead of facing last minute stresses at inopportune times, try to identify the times when you think you will be at your busiest and plan ahead accordingly. Both Akhtar and Hedger propose that you give yourself more time or plan certain periods for your hobbies, your time is important and will help you check off your list of to-dos without the meltdowns that sometimes accompany them.

2. Understand the ‘Needs’ and the ‘Wants’

Don’t expect too much of yourself when you know you are already swamped with things to do. Hedger suggests keeping your expectations in check and understanding the differences between your ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ for the holidays. He added that we sometimes tend to try and cram in some last minute wrapping and cooking in the evenings but  we should be sure to stop these tasks at least an hour before bed so you give your brain some time to breathe and relax. This will lead to more restful sleep and ensures you don’t skip out on your sleep.

3. Your ‘Perfect Christmas’

According to Dr. Akhtar, don’t overthink the idea of ‘A Perfect Christmas’. Perfection is extremely hard to achieve and can sometimes set you up for disaster. Let things follow their course and understand that a ‘good enough Christmas’ will make you and your loved ones happier than ever.


4. Watch the alcohol

Both Akhtar and Hedger agree that the amount we drink is often higher during the holiday season but keep in mind it can contribute to increased stress levels. Alcohol acts as a depressant and can act against productivity leaving you feeling down. Caffeine consumption may be your go to but caffeine in turn can also make you feel jittery and nervous (not to mention that it can also severely affect your sleep patterns).

5. Make time for “down time”

Try not to get so wrapped up in the holiday season that you forget to have fun! Hedger recommends you take breaks and make time to do the things you like to do. Just because it’s the busiest time of the year and you have more things to do than ever before, doesn’t mean you have to put everything else before yourself.

6. Be patient with your relationships

Being with your loved ones is always great but not always stress free. Often, you may feel extremely pressured to make everything perfect for your families for the holidays and that can lead to you burning out, mentioned Akhtar. It’s important to give the gift of your smile and happiness to your family in order to make things run smoothly. Akhtar stressed that you should not get too caught up in the perfect gift when all they really need is you!

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Hedger emphasised that even though the holidays can be hard, you are not alone and there are always others willing to lend a helping hand. Reach out to your close friends and work at those relationships, even if it’s just for a chat. It’s almost guaranteed that they are going through the same frustrations and stresses as you!

If you can combine these strategies and face the holiday season head on, you will be just fine. Remember, the key to keeping up with this fast-paced holiday season is all about you maintaining your stress levels and getting enough restful sleep!



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