Once again we have reached the end of the year, and for many of us this means that we become busier than we have been all year round. Not only are we winding down with regards to work and business, but we have a long “to-do” list before we can settle into a hard earned year end break. With all the pressures of arranging family times and making sure we have bought gifts for our loved ones, it may seem that there is little time to focus on our intimate relationships, let alone ourself. Yet, allowing time to connect with our loved ones and self could make the festive season less stressful.

Cuddling releases oxytocin, which is a hormone that promotes comfort and relaxation. In addition, it reduces anxiety and stress while lowering blood pressure. Though it may seem that there isn’t a moment in the day to focus on intimate needs when things are so busy, it might be important to ensure that time is made for physically connecting activities. Often we find time later in the evening to sit down and relax, feeling the importance of having some time to ourselves. Perhaps using this time to take five minutes to have a short eye-gazing session and a deep hug or cuddle with our lover could result in reduced stress, causing us to think more clearly and calmly in the face of so much activity.

Taking a few minutes alone to breath deeply and feel into the body for tensions could also help to alleviate some pressure. Deep breathing not only slows the heartbeat, it can lower blood pressure. As we often spend time shallow breathing, particularly during busy periods, taking a few moments to become present with the breath and allow our lungs to fill with oxygen rich air can significantly change our state of mind and emotional landscape. A daily practice of deep and meditative breathing can even begin to change the way we respond to stress, with some people reporting that after some practice they are more able to think clearly when life becomes frantic around them.

Often it seems easier to find an excuse as to why not to take time out for our intimate partner and ourselves – we think that it might be more stressful to focus on ANOTHER aspect of life while we are busily preparing for the year-end festivities. Creating short and practical exercises may really benefit in the long run, and allow for a clearer space within which to function. Why not allow space for a gift to yourself by using some of the above tools when stress is mounting and see if it makes a difference to your holiday period?