Blue, blue, christmas
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
27th November, 20130 Comments
Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat,
Now who can be bothered?
To deal with all of that!
Many of us struggle with Christmas, the anticipation, the pressure to get on with families, the fear of buying the wrong gift, parties that we are invited to, parties we are not. The whole season can be stressful and difficult to get through. If you are already finding it difficult, perhaps you are stressed, perhaps you are anxious, suffering from panic attacks or depressed. Perhaps you are missing loved ones. So what are the practical things that can get you through the festive season?
It may come as no surprise to realise that it is more important to continue some of the normal activities that you would use to look after yourself. It is important to eat regularly and to get enough sleep. Of course at the festive season, there are many extra treats in store and pressure to ‘just try one it's Christmas’. While its nice to have a treat all to easily it can become comfort eating to help you cope. Make the main part of what you eat your normal diet of a healthy mix of the main food groups, fruit and vegetables, protein and carbohydrates. Similarly, Christmas is associated with alcohol and again (medication not withstanding) a little can help you relax and enjoy yourself. Yet too much is likely to make you feel worse, prevent you getting a proper sleep, change your behaviour and may worsen your mood.
Perhaps one of the key tools that you have at your disposal is to plan ahead. There are parts of this juggernaut you can control by planning. Decide what you would like to celebrate. Perhaps being with family or friends would make you feel happy, perhaps you would prefer some time on your own. Sometimes we fear going to a party because we will be trapped for hours rather than being able to leave after the meal. You can do practical things like book a taxi for that time so that you have an excuse to leave. If you feel you want to stay you can always delay or cancel the taxi. So plan and agree with friends what you will do.
Shopping at Christmas can be what nightmares are made of for those suffering anxiety, so again some planning can help. Can you go first thing in the morning before the crowds are too much? On-line stores now offer many things that can be delivered to your door, so perhaps you can avoid the crowds altogether. Write a list and know where you need to go so that you can plan to limit your exposure to the crowds.
Perhaps one of the things that it is most important to find time for is a little sanctuary from all of the pressure. That might be some time relaxing, or walking or doing your favourite hobby such as reading. The point is some down time to organise how you are feeling and coping and to let some of the stress and anxiety wash away as you are safe in your sanctuary.
So it is possible to survive this season, even if you are not feeling well. The keys are to listen to yourself and what you need, to plan the things you can manage, to look after yourself both bodily and mentally and enjoy your time the way you can.
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