Christmas stress can be kept at bay with a little self care, Sarah Maxwell explains

At this busy time of year exercise and wellbeing will usually be last on your list of priorities, however… !

Christmas can be a stressful time of year and exercise is actually one of the best ways to combat it. Studies have found that active people experience significantly less anxiety and emotional distress than active people.

“Take the pressure off yourself and exercise in bite-size chunks” 

Endless lists, shopping bags, keeping everyone happy, excess alcohol, edible treats and less sleep all adds up to exhaustion, overload and stress. The average British person gains around 5lbs at Christmas. If you manage to maintain a regular exercise programme, or at least be active and take care of yourself, you will have a much less stressful holiday season and be ready to hit the ground running in January.

I am a huge fan of quick workouts and I have devised an exercise programme that I call ‘on the go workouts’ – when I’m flat out I do these to keep up my energy levels and combat the difficulty I have with short dark days. I find it really helps my mood (especially as I get rather uptight at this time of year). In truth this is not just about keeping fit and exercising it’s about giving yourself some energy and calming your mind. If I didn’t do some exercise at some point in the day or do something just for myself I wouldn’t be able to juggle everything quite so well.

Take the pressure off yourself and do the exercises in bite-size chunks so you don’t have to go to the gym or class if you’re running short on time (aren’t we all). Try squats while waiting for the kettle to boil, throw yourself into a plank while you’re waiting for the bath to fill, stretches while watching your favourite TV programme and if you’ve got young children put on your favourite music and dance with them (I’m sure they will love Michael Buble’s Christmas album).

Every minute counts as we enter into the festive season, as we do more shopping online we don’t walk around the shops as much as we used to and that takes a toll on our health and wellbeing.

This year, take time out to nurture yourself, move more and spend some quiet time alone. I can guarantee you will have the merriest, fittest and calmest Christmas yet!

Exercise of the month:  The wall sit

This is a great exercise for thighs and bottom (a prefect pre-ski exercise too) 

Stand with your back about 10in/2.5cm away from a wall and place your feet hip width apart. Lean against the wall and slide down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Be careful not to push your knees beyond your toes and don’t allow your bottom to be lower than your knees. Put the weight on your heels and arms crossed over your chest.

Try to hold for up to a minute and repeat 3 times.

Have a Merry Christmas x

Sarah Maxwell is a multiple award-winning Fitness and Lifestyle coach and mum of two who juggles a lot of balls. Find out more about Sarah and her work at 

Sarah shares her Fitness and Lifestyle tips on Instagram @sarahmaxwelllifestyle

TEST Young sporty girl doing wall sitting exercise urban outdoors.

Young sporty girl doing wall sitting exercise urban outdoors.

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