Tips on how to cope with Christmas anxiety and stress
The festive season can stir up a minefield of expectation. Here’s how to cope with Christmas anxiety and if you’re feeling stressed out…
As Christmas fast approaches, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the festive frenzy. From social gatherings and bigger workloads, to the added financial pressures of trying to organise the ‘perfect’ day, as well as buy the biggest and best gifts. And while Christmas is a time of celebration with family and friends, for many, the feeling of isolation and loneliness, is heightened. There are so many triggers for stress and anxiety at this time of the year, so how does one cope with Christmas anxiety?
According to the Stress Management Society, one in 20 people considers Christmas more stressful than a burglary. So all the more reason to acknowledge your feelings and not to bury them. If you are feeling the burden of Christmas weigh heavily, then don’t ignore the triggers. There are many tips to help overcome anxiety and to look after your mental and physical wellbeing.
Take care of you
It can be an intensely busy time of year, so make sure you get plenty of rest, and refrain from over indulging in sugary, fatty foods and drinking too much alcohol. You actually store more fat when stressed, while alcohol consumption acts as a depressant. The more time you make for yourself, the more equipped you’ll be at dealing with what life throws at you. Take a break – read a book, go for a walk, or run a bath. Do something that makes you happy and this will also help you sleep better.
Keep things in perspective
Move at your own pace and don’t feel you have to keep up with friends, family or all the images and posts you may encounter on social media. If the pressure gets too much, have a digital detox. At this time of the year, expectations to impress can be overwhelming. Avoid the hype, and don’t let your finances become strained. It’s essential you are realistic about the type of Christmas you can have, and create one that’s perfect for you and your family. And so what if you haven’t had time to make the beds, or you haven’t made a Christmas cake from scratch – it doesn’t matter.
Learn to say no!
If you are the type of person that likes to please everyone, then accepting every invitation going will only increase stress levels. Set boundaries early on, then you’ll be more in tune with what works for you. The demands on time at Christmas is much greater, but by learning to say: ‘no’ will give you the space to reset and take a step back.
Take deep breaths
If it all gets too much, take a minute and practise a few simple mindfulness exercises, which can really help anxiety. You can do this at any time of the day – just breathe in deeply and breathe out. Concentrate your attention on how this feels in your chest and stomach. It’s a great way to focus your mind and when you use these techniques to force your lungs to work, it will override the stress response and make you feel calmer.
Talk it out and stay connected
It can be a lonely time if you’re dealing with stress and anxiety. Don’t be frightened to share your thoughts and worries with a friend, family member or someone you trust. It’s always good to get a different perspective. Also keep in touch with friends, family and neighbours, even if you’re not able to physically see them. A phone call, text or even email can help you stay connected to loved ones.
Perhaps consider volunteering over the festive period. Not only will you be feeling positive about helping those less fortunate, but you will get the chance to meet new people. Head to www.do-it.org.uk where you can find local opportunities to help.
Seek professional advice
If you’re still struggling to cope with your anxiety and stress, and worrying more than usual, then perhaps it’s time to consider getting professional help. Chat to your GP in the first instance, as they can make an assessment and refer you for treatment and support. If you feel that there isn’t anyone you can talk to or you’re not sure about seeking medical help, then contact local help groups, helplines or charities. mind.org.uk has plenty of information and advice on who to contact) or connect with online group and communities, and talk to others who are experiencing anxiety, too.