While a certain amount of worry about money, snogging the creepy boy in IT at the work’s do and the major awkwardness of spending time with your extended family is pretty much standard around the holidays, if you suffer from anxiety Christmas ‘worries’ can quickly trigger you into a downward spiral.
LEARN TO SAY NO AND STOP DOING STUFF YOU DON’T WANT TOO.
- Stop saying yes when you want to say no
To anxiety sufferers, a party can feel like the social equivalent of running a marathon. & I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the energy to run a marathon every day, or even every week. So I like to apply the ‘stop giving a fuck about things you don’t care about’ principle. Pretty much my new motto for life: If I’m not on top form, I’m not going. Yes you may suffer from major FOMO when you haven’t managed to drag yourself to the 5th christmas *any excuse for a piss up* party at your mates house. But look at you instead, all cosy with your fluffy dressing gown, watching Harry Potter and chilling the f*ck out. You need it, your body needs it, and most importantly, your mental health needs it. Listen to your body and your mental health at all times. They’ll be plenty of time to play cards of humanity and drink so much vodka you pass out in the new year, promise.
TREAT SOCIAL MEDIA AS IT IS – FAKE.
Oh instagram, you really can be our own worst enemy this time of year, don’t fall into a comparison trap and feel pressured to get caught up in the whirlwind and overhaul of Christmas filters and curated fairytale images. (and don’t get me started on #boydidgood #solucky #bestboyfriendevaaaaa parade). Our reality of Christmas isn’t what we see on TV and social media and that is okay! There are so many ways to celebrate and everyone’s christmas, family and relationship, is different! Your christmas can still be perfect for you, and your version doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It’s that expectation that you will be happy, social and participate in every aspect of Christmas with hundreds of presents that can worsen our anxiety, when sometimes you just want to curl up with a cup of tea and a Christmas movie, go to bed early, or just do your own thing for a while – and that’s fine! In fact it sounds pretty lovely! Don’t get hung up on what the Christmas holidays are supposed to look like and how you’re supposed to feel and have a Christmas that works for you,
TAKE A BREAK
Allow yourself to take ‘time out’ if you find your anxiety is going off the rails. Live your life for you not for anyone else. Don’t let the fear of being judged, rejected or disliked stop you from doing what you need to do, and if that means going upstairs for a few hours to get away from your crazy family do not, feel guilty. Get some fresh air on a winter walk, go out for a coffee or just read a book – whatever will help you to relax or unwind – manage relatives’ expectations by saying that you have planned some ‘down time’ so you can do your own thing. Saying ‘no’ can be difficult if you feel pressured to join in with family and friends parties, however setting limits is important for your own well being.
SET REALISTIC GOALS AND PLANS
Acknowledge the parts of Christmas you actually like and set realistic expectations for yourself, especially with social events. Remember, you don’t have to be doing all of the things all of the time and leaping around like Mrs santa claus to enjoy Christmas, in fact you don’t even have to like Christmas nor partake in it. Always remember, your life, your decisions, YOUR CHRISTMAS.
Try and stick to routines as much as possible to prevent Christmas from becoming too overwhelming, put boundaries in place with other people and stick as much as you can to any self-care plans you have in place. I don’t know about anyone else but if I haven’t planned things my anxiety can get worse – planning what you want to spend, what you want your christmas day to look like and importantly, who you want to be apart of your Christmas – will help it all run a lot smoother and keep your anxiety levels lower.
DON’T PUNISH YOURSELF
Ahhh food glorious food, from Yorkshire puddings to Christmas tree shaped biscuits, to 9 tubs of celebrations. You quite literally can’t get away from the mass of food on Christmas day, enough to feed a whole village. And also enough to send your anxiety into overdrive. But try and rid yourself of food guilt and calorie counting craziness even if it’s just for one day alone, stop being so hard on yourself.
Every time you catch yourself saying something negative about your body and eating, stop and reframe it.
Example: “I’m really bad at following my eating plan at christmas, I’m going to put on a shit tonne of weight” (result: you feel guilty and crap). Stop and switch to: “I struggle to eat healthy food at christmas and tend to over indulge, it’s normal, this is what most people do too. I’m just gunna’ be chill about it, I’ll make it work for me” (result: you feel empowered).
Silence your inner critic! Remember life isn’t about what dress size you are it’s about enjoying the ride. Seriously, not too be too morbid but you’re going to die one day, noones going to remember how many mince pies you ate or if you put on a pound or two. Try and shift the focus at Christmas from constantly worrying about how much food and alcohol you’ve manged to consume and just focus on all of the positives of the day. You deserve to feel peace and joy around food, especially at Christmas. Remember it’s practically impossible to put on weight over just a few days so enjoy your roast and yummy mulled wine!
you’ll see that the 5th mince pie (or whatever your trigger food is over christmas) will no longer have power over you and in fact, you ate them because you wanted too, and you enjoyed it.
AND LASTLY…SPEAK OUT IF YOU CAN
Mental health shouldn’t be something that defines you, and it certainly shouldn’t be a taboo subject in 2017, so if someone asks you whats up with you on christmas day speak out and explain. You see those with eating disorders, toxic family members, grief or any mental illness this can be a time of stress and sometimes relapse. so be kind to yourself and understanding. If you feel you have no support around you and you’re in distress this Christmas and want someone to talk to, please call Samaritans on 116 123 – their phone lines are open all day every day over the festive period and they’re free.
Happy holidays! xox