There are a few weeks to the end of the year – and a few strands to the end of your tether. Follow this survival guide.

With the mad Christmas rush coming up, you’ll need to develop your stress-coping mechanisms fairly quickly.

Here’s how to avoid burnout and get on top of things:

Face the dragon. Avoiding a problem that bothers you, or agonising about it in silence, will just cause those adrenalin levels to climb. Keeping everything to yourself might make things appear insoluble. A friend or a psychologist could give you a different perspective. Lean on your support system if you really feel you can’t cope.

Say “no”. Know what causes you stress at this time of year, and work actively to reduce stress: learn to say “no”, share your workload, and question whether there’s an alternative to the situation that causes anxiety. Don’t try to meet all your office end-of-year deadlines by yourself and ask your partner to share some of your responsibilities at home. Also don’t feel you absolutely have to go to all the dinner and office parties you’re invited to over the next few weeks.

Limit your caffeine intake. Your body takes five hours to process caffeine, so if you have your first cup at 6am and the last one at 11pm, your body is basically never caffeine-free. Caffeine, which is also present in tea, chocolate and some soda drinks, heightens your blood pressure and stops your adrenal glands from functioning at their best. This could add to your stress levels.

Get regular exercise. This will help your body produce endorphines, the body's natural antidepressant, which will in turn help prevent insomnia and cut stress.

Follow a healthy diet. Don't skip meals, as this will cause your blood sugar levels to spike and drop, worsening the effect of the blood-sugar fluctuations you experience when stressed. Don’t resort to eating high-energy junk food, cookies or sweets in an attempt to counteract the sluggishness brought on by low blood-sugar levels. Yoghurt, fruit, vegetables, cottage cheese, lean protein, nuts, seeds and high-fibre cereal will help to regulate your blood-sugar levels.

Drink less. Alcohol is actually a nervous-system depressant, and, in the long run, drinking too much can actually cause depression, not relieve it. Drink more water and less alcohol as Christmas draws near. This will also keep you properly hydrated, which will reduce irritation.

Get enough sleep. Adults need eight hours of sleep a night – few get more than seven. Our bodies need sleep to recharge and to aid the healing processes. Try to stick to a regular sleep routine. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and large meals at night. A glass of milk will help you fight insomnia, as milk contains an amino acid that’s converted into a sleep-enhancing compound in the brain.


Learn relaxation techniques. Yoga, Pilates, meditation or tai chi will help to reduce the effects of stress on your body. When you relax, your body will stop producing cortisol in excess, which in turn will increase the effective functioning of your immune system, lowering your chances of infection.

Explore your options. Treat yourself to aromatherapy, a relaxing massage or a reflexology session at the start of the holiday season. This will release the knots in your muscles, and produce a much-needed calming effect.


It's important to take time out for yourself. Do these things and meet the new you before the year is over!

Image via Thinkstock

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