Regardless of whether you have ongoing mental health difficulties or not, many struggle with anxiety at Christmas. Adults, especially parents, feel an immense pressure to make Christmas magical. As parents we want to buy our children the gifts they have wished for and give our loved ones a Christmas they will remember for years to come.
The festive season is truly wonderful, but for some it can be a time for stress, anxiety, sadness, money worries, loneliness and disappointment. Christmas always makes us embrace what we have, but also remember what we’ve lost. The to-do list is never-ending. There is Christmas shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, travel, crowds and the onslaught of advertising giving us unrealistic Christmas expectations and filling us with nervous anticipation.
I love Christmas, and I always dread the looming anxiety as the big day dawns. This year I’m determined not to let it affect our Christmas celebrations. Stress and anxiety is the thief of joy, and both can affect our bodies in many ways. It is vital that we relieve any built-up stress before it consumes us. We shouldn’t have to recover from the Christmas season, so it’s important to manage stress and anxiety well in advance of the big day.
There are just over 10 days to go until Christmas Day and I am trying to rest as much as possible between all of the nativities and school celebrations. I’m going to bed a little earlier and trying to do less during the day. If you struggle with anxiety at Christmas, I highly recommend that you rest your mind and body well in advance of the festivities. A rested mind will allow you to savour the present moment and absorb the Christmas spirit.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of Christmas.
I’m sure we all wish we had picture perfect homes illuminated with festive lighting, a huge and beautifully decorated tree and all the luxuries that we see on the television and social media. I’m very guilty of flicking through Facebook and comparing my home to others, however, my children love our home just the way it is. They worked hard on our slightly garish tree decorations and were thrilled when I hung twinkling lights at the windows. It’s not the same as anyone else’s and that’s just how they like it. So despite lusting over beautiful festive homes on social media, I am happy with what we have. What we see on TV and social media isn’t realistic and can trigger unrealistic expectations.
This year I haven’t set myself any unrealistic goals, I have no expectations. I generally live by the rule of ‘don’t expect anything, and everything else is a bonus’. If your expectations are high, you will end up sabotaging your own happiness and peace of mind. Eliminate any expectations you have had in previous years and go with the flow.
Finally, make sure you nourish yourself from the inside out. I always over-indulge at Christmas. I just can’t help myself! It’s important to remember the impact food and drink can have on our mood. Sugar and caffeine will cause you to peak and crash sending your anxiety levels soaring.
Try be mindful of what you are putting into your body. Don’t push yourself to eat or drink more to please others. Know your boundaries.