Niki Saks, a leading health and wellness expert, explains the importance of navigating anxiety by using practical tips to overcome both physical symptoms and negative emotions. In her bestselling book, 'Hiding in the Open: Living Sensitively’, Saks provides a deep insight into the issues at hand with a unique perspective, coming from having mental health challenges herself.
Her best bit of advice when feeling anxious or fearful? Deep belly breathing!
"Deep belly breathing is the best way to stop and shift your focus back to the present moment. This not only implements a chain of physiological changes by slowing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure, but mentally, it also helps you feel more in control of the situation."
Saks explains that the most effective way to cool down the nervous system is through using deep belly breathing. Breathing in for four counts, holding for four counts and breathing out for four counts is her recommendation. This provides a quick fix when all the Christmas celebrations are too much to handle.
However, in the long term, anxiety can be dealt with through active participation in mindfulness and setting realistic goals of what you want to achieve throughout the holiday period.
Finances, socialising and participating in routine Christmas traditions are all triggers for worry, stress and feelings of loneliness. While studies have shown that putting up your Christmas decorations earlier can make you feel happier, that does not mean it makes it less stressful.
These feelings can, however, be alleviated through investing time and effort into keeping calm and adjusted.
With tips like using the 3-3-3 technique or limiting your time on over stimulating activities like scrolling social media, Saks determines the festive season as something that even the most anxious individual can enjoy.
“It can be easy to get sucked into everything that happens during the festive season. Everyone, everywhere, is always trying to go bigger and better than the previous year. Just remember that you don’t have to be part of it all. Be mindful about the festive season and choose to slow down with the box breathing technique and your mantra. Use the 3-3-3 technique to regain your focus, and you’ll find that this year’s festive season will ride itself out more peacefully and enjoyably,” says Saks.
Finally, investing in physical tools that calm the senses can also decrease levels of anxiety.
If you need a little help before Christmas officially begins, tools such as diffusers and weighted blankets can make a significant impact on your mental wellness. Plus, they make great Christmas gifts for friends and family who are feeling anxious about the new year!
As Niki Saks says, “Mental wellness starts with you.”
Our top picks for wellness
Amber & Sandalwood Fragrance Diffuser 250ml, $49.95, Myer
Essential oils such as lavender and sandalwood (which is within the diffuser above) are proven to reduce physical symptoms of anxiety. What could be better than a stress-reliever that smells great as well?
Grey Oodie Weighted Blanket, $129 (previously $159), Oodie
A weighted blanket is perfect for those that get easily overwhelmed, as weight puts your nervous system into 'rest' mode. Grab your favourite Christmas movie and cuddle up with this Oodie one!
Hiding in the Open: Living Sensitively, $16.19, Amazon
Of course, Niki Saks' bestseller is a must-have for all the worriers out there!
Portable Full Body Vibration Massager Black PGM-120-AU, $19.95, Myer
It's easy to de-stress anywhere when you've got a massager that can fit right into your bag.