Christmas has always been known as the season of joy and happiness. But for those who suffer from mental health issues, it’s not always like this. I never really understood how much my mental health could affect seasonal events until I realised it wouldn’t just go away because it was Christmas.
Now every year when Christmas rolls around, I have to put steps into place to try to manage my anxiety at Christmas in the best way that I possibly can. This doesn’t necessarily mean forcing myself to be happy and positive, it means looking after me and making sure I’m taking good care of myself.
Whether you suffer from anxiety like myself or just need an extra reminder of how to get through this Christmas as somewhat stress-free as possible, then keep on reading to see how I manage anxiety at Christmas!
I have a good idea of what I’m doing
Something that always helps me when it comes to the busiest time of the year is having a good idea as to what I’m doing. This doesn’t just apply to any Christmas day plans. It also applies to the days before and after as well.
I like to have a good idea of what I’m doing so I can somewhat keep in a routine because routines can massively help you if you suffer from any mental health issues. They keep you going, focused and on track to go from each day to the next.
It helps you to know where you’re going to be and when you’re going to be there especially if you’re visiting any family or going to any particular events. It takes away that unknown and gives you a clear sense of how you can approach looking after you because you can adapt to the situation you’re going to be in.
I try my best to look after me
Because my anxiety has caused stomach issues over the past few years, all year round and in particular at important events like Christmas, I really have to ensure I’m looking after me. That means taking my medication, not eating trigger foods, eating little and often, keeping hydrated, soothing any pains with my trusty heat pad, getting enough sleep and having ‘me’ time.
It’s like the typical day to day things you do to look after yourself and get through the day by x10 when it’s Christmas. I think it’s even more important because you might be so busy at Christmas, your own self-care can get thrown out of the window whilst you’re trying to keep up with everything else and obviously doing more than the usual can stop you for looking after you.
So it’s so important to ensure you’re looking after you so you can still do all the events you have planned but your physical and mental health can keep up with it all.
I don’t force myself to be a particular way
It can feel incredibly disappointing and like you’re annoying people when you’re not in the festive spirit. Whether your mental health is poor or you’re just not feeling it, you can almost get labelled as the scrooge, but if you feel like you can’t physically be happy, then there is no point forcing yourself to be.
I don’t force myself to feel any particular way that whatever I may be feeling. This can of course change throughout the day or week or stay the same. But whatever it is that I feel I just allow myself to feel that way and don’t force myself to feel anything else.
I’m never one to force myself to feel happy or positive. I just don’t think it’s a good way to deal with your emotions. Instead, I accept how I feel, let it in and then allow it to pass on it’s own accord. By doing this, I’ve learnt that I manage to get through emotions quicker than if I was to force myself to be a particular way. It just doesn’t work if not!
Know where I can turn for support
I’m quite good at sharing how I feel from day to day all year round anyway but even more so during the festive period. It is so important to share how you feel with someone you trust and know will be supportive back. It helps to reassure you that you can be how you need to be and get the support you need if you ask for it.
Having someone to talk to about how you’re feeling can help you to put a plan in place to get what you need or even just to take away the power and hold holding back your feelings can have on you.
If you have no one to talk to or would prefer to speak to someone outside of your circle, remember there are helpful support charities out there that will be available to talk to you during the festive period from the Samaritans, Beat, The Campaign Against Living Miserably, The Calm Zone and many others. You can view the full list here. Some also offer telephone, text or email help.
Even if you feel good, just letting people know that you’re doing okay and that you’re open for them to open up to you if they don’t feel the best at any stage. It creates a supportive environment and gives other people who may not be doing ok a supportive network as well as you having your own.
How do you manage stress and anxiety at Christmas?