All is Calm… Five Ways to Cope With Anxiety Over Christmas
Is anyone else on the verge of mental meltdown? Christmas is supposed to be fun isn't it, instead it seems like a gruelling race to a finish line where there are a family of unresolved childhood issues waiting for you. Read on to find out from Amy Jackson at Dorothy House how to make the season more fruitful...
I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas. I love the decorations, giving gifts, the constant flow of prosecco (just me?), but on the flipside, I hate the pressure and stress that the festive season puts upon us, and I’m not the only one. A 2019 YouGov survey found that a quarter of people reported that the festive season makes their mental health worse.
'Personally, Christmas wreaks havoc on my anxiety, transforming it from generic everyday anxiety to sparkly festive anxiety.'
Anxiety over Christmas is certainly common, particularly after the last two years thanks to the impact of the pandemic. So, this year it feels even more important that we prioritise our wellbeing over the festive period…but how do we do that at such a busy time? Well, after years of battling with festive anxiety, this is what I’ve learned.
1 – Identify what you’re anxious about
Are you worried about having too much in the diary? Are you worried about a particular family member causing drama? Just pin-pointing what your worries are can make a huge difference. It will help clarify your thoughts, as well as help you come up with ways to combat those worries.
2 – Say 'no'
From my own experience, I know this is a difficult one to master! When you throw in-laws, different friendship groups and large families into the mix, the number of gatherings on the horizon will no doubt feel overwhelming.
'That’s why it’s so important to not be scared to say no if you feel things will be too much.'
If you’re worried about offending anyone, why not offer a compromise? Rather than going somewhere for the whole evening, suggest just popping in for an hour two. Rather than dinner, suggest just meeting for a drink. Everyone’s going to be in the same boat, so chances are people will understand where you’re coming from.
3 – Book a ‘nothing day’
One day, no plans. Nothing. Once it’s in the diary, it’s non-negotiable. Similar to a mental health day, it’s a day where you light a few candles, get cosy in front of the TV and delve into that tin of Celebrations – self-care at its finest if you ask me. Personally, I love doing this on Boxing Day. Christmas Day is intense and goes by so quickly, so Boxing Day is a chance to put away any presents, catch up on the festive telly, and just take a breather. While Boxing Day may not work for you, ensure that you book something in. You’ll thank me for it.
4 – Look after yourself
The rush of Christmas often means we end up over-tired and run-down, which we all know make us more susceptible to those pesky winter bugs. That’s why looking after your physical health is important this time of year. Rest when you can, ensure you eat well, and (I know we’re all sick of being reminded of this one), wash your hands frequently to ensure you stay healthy over the festive season.
5 – Take five
I know all too well that despite your best efforts, sometimes anxiety will still rear its ugly head when you could really do without it. I’ve been victim to a few Christmas Day panic attacks over the years and have forced myself to stay in situations just because I’ve feared offending people. It’s not a good habit to have. I’ve since learned my lesson that it’s okay to excuse yourself if you’re struggling. Even if you end up sitting in the bathroom for five minutes, the important thing is you take that time. My top tip is to keep a bottle of the Birch Water and Neroli Facial mist in your bag. The blend of essential oils is formulated to encourage relaxation, and the cooling sensation is fantastic if you’re feeling flustered.
We often end up putting others first at Christmas, and while that completely fits in with the season of giving, it’s important that you still give yourself what you need. These tips are my gift to you, so make sure that following them is the gift you give yourself.