Christmas is coming – Don't panic!
Worry, anxiety, expectations and managing money contribute to your enjoyment of Christmas. Get a hold on Christmas – don’t let Christmas get a hold on you and your emotions.
Emotional stress at Christmas
Worrying about how much you have to do and possible conflict in the family turns into anxiety, which can lead to loss of appetite, sleep and joy. You may then go on autopilot and just get through Christmas, longing for it all to be over. Depression and divorce are often triggered by the stress of Christmas.
Managing anxiety around Christmas
Try a little mindfulness - notice things around you that give you pleasure – be really aware of the first sip of hot tea in the morning, the smile of someone you love, the clouds in the sky. Give yourself a few minutes and start the day with a positive mind. When you wake up in the morning, or any time you feel stressed, try a little slow deep breathing – like this:
Slow deep breath in - pause - slow deep breath out - pause. Repeat six times. Focus on your breathing and on your relaxed muscles. Take pleasure in the warmth of the bed and savour those moments.
Do the same when you are going to bed in the evening. Breathe in - pause - breathe out - pause. Close your eyes and focus on each part of your body and relax it. Imagine the sun warming you. Deeper relaxation helps to lessen the physical symptoms of anxiety and stress, and helps you sleep.
Worry can be managed
Notice the worry you have going round and round your head and begin a conversation with yourself. Ask yourself: “What am I worrying about?” Think about that. “Can I do anything about this worry?”
“No”- deep breath in and as you breathe out slowly, allow yourself to let that worry go. Turn your thoughts from negative into positive by focusing on something you can do something about.
“Yes”- When? How? What can you do?
Now or later – make a plan and manage it. Decide what, how and when to take action and let the worry go.
Thinking about something that you dread doing that feels worse than actually doing the dreaded thing. This passive anxiety becomes much more manageable emotionally if you take control and act. Here’s something you can do to get in the right frame of mind for Christmas jobs. Focus on the thing that you know you should be doing, but are avoiding. What are you dreading? Is it a finance worry? Family relationships/conflict? Time and energy? Depression looming?
Let’s go a step further. What is the worst that can happen? Think about it. Can you deal with that?
Yes. Go for it.
No. Can you do anything that will make the situation bearable? See worry can be managed above.
Recognise your triggers. What is particularly difficult about Christmas for you? Shopping and crowds? Social anxiety? Family relationships at Christmas? Being alone at Christmas? Grief? Lack of normal routine and structure to your life? Think about how you can manage Christmas and survive it without being destructive to yourself. Make a list of people and activities that will help you feel better at Christmas and what will work for you. Get some events and visits to friends/family in the diary and go to them. Have information on help lines handy so you can reach out when you need to.
I wish you a Happy Healthy Christmas and New Year
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About Anne Anderson
I qualified as a counsellor, psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in 2009 and now work work near Sandwich in Kent. I work with issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, couples therapy, bereavement and obsessive thinking.
I use an integrated approach to therapy to suit the individual client.