Whilst most of us absolutely love the festive season, for some, it can be one of the toughest times of the year. A lot of people struggle with mental health issues, some people have to spend Christmas alone and some people just can’t deal with the stresses that come with Christmas. It’s one of those things that many people suffer with, but because of the fact, Christmas is set as one of those times of the year that is brilliant and the best. Whilst, yes it is it’s not always that way for other people, it’s important to know that this time of the year isn’t always the best for everyone. 

There are so many high expectations that come with Christmas and so many things that need doing a lot of us going really out our ways to make the day perfect. But, the problem is that when you suffer from any particular mental health issue, not just anxiety, it can be really overwhelming and often make you feel a lot worse. Anxiety is one of those that can come at the worst time, but it’s vital that when you feel those feelings that you give yourself a time out and don’t stress yourself out too much. Christmas time, in general, can be very stressful. 

silhouette of woman sitting on bench during sunset

What exactly is anxiety?

Anxiety can be seen as many different things, it comes with many difficulties and can really affect your day to day life. It’s your bodies natural response to stress, it’s this overwhelming feeling of fear about what’s to come, commonly known as uncertainty. Whilst it’s normal to feel anxious about certain things, anxiety is something that can just come and go, but when them feelings do spring upon you, it can be very hard to push aside. But, then there are anxiety disorders which can cause you to really stop doing things you enjoy.

Types are:
  • Panic disorder: Experiencing regular panic attacks at unexpected times
  • Phobias: Excessive fear of a specific thing this could be an object, activity or a situation
  • Social anxiety disorder: Going out in social situations, feeling like you’re being judged by others
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Irrational thoughts that keep appearing regularly, that then makes you perform specific repetitive behaviours
  • Separation anxiety disorder: The fear of being away from home or loved ones
  • Health anxiety: Anxiety about your health, known as hypochondria
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: A type of anxiety following a traumatic event

Coping with anxiety at Christmas

woman sitting on black chair in front of glass-panel window with white curtains

Feeling anxious over Christmas is something that we all feel, but for those with anxiety, those feelings can be very hard to deal with. Those that suffer with it and more specifically social anxiety can be very anxious in situations that include social gatherings. Another thing that can be hard for those who suffer from anxiety could be finance, not knowing if you have enough money to be able to buy gifts or do certain things. Not only that but the way in which this year is currently going. Covid has really brought everyone down and has definitely affected loads of us negatively this year. Those that have anxiety could be very worried due to the restrictions, or travelling with all this going on or perhaps not being able to see their families.

There are quite a few ways in which you can help yourself cope a little better during Christmas time or even the month of December in general. One of the main ones is, of course, is to keep active, we hear about this all the time, but it’s definitely one of those things that need to be talked about. Even though the days are definitely a lot colder and it gets dark a lot earlier, it may be hard to find the motivation to want to go outside and be able to go for a walk or run or go to the gym or perhaps work out at home. But, for some people they prefer exercising when it’s cold, wrapping up warm and going out in the cold weather and feeling the crisp air can really help and be very refreshing and help you feel better.

Find distractions, this doesn’t mean completely turn your mind off to Christmas but it means ways in which you can find things to help you think straight when you’re feeling anxious. Listening to music can be very beneficial, or perhaps watching your favourite movie or doing a puzzle. Things where you can just switch off and focus on something else for a while. Don’t burn yourself out, move at your own pace don’t feel pressured into agreeing to everything or having to go out of your way to much when you don’t want too. At Christmas, we all enjoy a glass of wine or a beer and whilst it’s ok in moderation and it’s a time to celebrate. However, it’s one of those things that for someone who has anxiety it can make the feelings a lot worse and can lead to low mood.

The Christmas season is such a whirlwind and we often get so caught up in the things we see all over social media about their ‘perfect’ days or what we see on TV, but often that’s not reality. We shouldn’t get so caught up in that because it makes us feel like we’re not doing good enough or that we can’t be sad during this time. This links into making time for yourself, being able to indulge in what you enjoy, not what everyone wants you to do if you don’t feel up to it. Be kind to yourself, give yourself time if you’re not feeling great and if you want to spend all day in your pyjamas relaxing then do that. Don’t ever feel selfish for taking care of yourself and putting yourself first. Plenty of self-care is vital, when anxiety begins to creep up, self-care is even more important.

If you’re one of those people who suffer from anxiety then something that may really help you not feel too stressed out is perhaps making a list. Planning out what you’ll do at Christmas, times, activities, making a shopping list for all the bits and bobs you want to get and ticking it off. You could talk to someone that will be there during the Christmas times and organise things with someone else to make you feel less stressed. Another key one is getting plenty of rest, sleeping well, having a nap if you need it, having a sleep schedule, feeling exhausted can lead us to feel less able to cope, get an early night and have a lie in if you need it.

Of course, something to keep in mind is to always reach out to someone if you feel it’s really affecting you. If you’re worried about Christmas and it getting worse and feeling under pressure, don’t be scared to talk about it. Make sure to talk to someone you trust and tell them how you feel, it can make you feel better to talk about how you feel. If you don’t want to talk to your family or friends then talk to a professional, someone will always help you and not want you to go through what you’re going through alone.

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If you’re looking for any online counselling or walk and talk therapy whether you’re a parent and you’re looking for your children. You yourself need it or you’re a student or anyone that is struggling at this time, then please do not hesitate to contact Becky. You can access contact details here. Check out the website for more information.

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Journalist