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Christmas: the season to be jolly, not jaded says Corinthia London

Dr Tara Swart
Corinthia Hotel London’s Neuroscientist in Residence Dr Tara Swart has shared her three top tips about how best to manage your work life balance around Christmas and New Year and keep stress levels to a minimum.
Tara has drawn up a festive menu comprising digital detox, rest/sleep to recharge the brain and social bonding/spending time with family in order to circumvent what can be a stressful period.

1. Digital detox: Getting the right balance between work and life over the festive season is key so a digital detox is the gift you can give yourself and your family. If you can’t switch off completely then try to avoid checking emails too often and too much phone use.

“It can be tempting to fire off emails in order to push everything off your desk before you let yourself relax,” says Tara. “But this can negatively impact your team and cause stress for others.

“Getting things off your ‘to do’ list by sending emails gives your brain a small ‘reward’, but each email received by a colleague could have the reverse effect, increasing their stress levels.”

2. Rest/sleep to recharge the brain: It’s important to give your brain a break and not succumb to too much Christmas TV or surfing the internet sales before bed as poor quality sleep is a serious consequence. Avoid using phones, laptops and TVs in bed as they can have a particularly negative impact on our brains and the quality of our sleep.

“Melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate our sleep, is released by the pineal gland into the bloodstream,” explains Tara. “The blue light that phone, TVs and laptop screens emit confuses the gland because darkness is what triggers it to start work.”

Furthermore, our sleep patterns over Christmas can be negatively impacted by the amount of alcohol we drink and when we drink it, explains Tara. “Avoid alcohol for two hours before your bed time, otherwise your sleep is disrupted while your body metabolises the alcohol to detoxify your system.”

3. Social bonding/spending time with family: “Spending time with loved ones helps increase levels of oxytocin, the ‘bonding hormone’ which is released into the blood via the pituitary gland during times of love and bonding,” says Tara. Oxytocin is likely to be more in abundance in a situation where people can communicate and interact freely over a shared experience, as well as through appropriate physical contact. It improves communication and trust and helps mitigate stress levels, allowing you to fully relax.

Corinthia Hotel London has created a Brain Power Package at the hotel to align with Dr Tara Swart’s residency during 2017. “It’s the ultimate de-stress package that also gives your brain the best shot at working at optimum performance,” says General Manager Thomas M Fischer.

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