Christmas is quickly approaching. On one hand this time of the year brings in the warmth and joy of family get-togethers, however, on the other hand you may feel overwhelmed by the numerous commitments and chores that come with the festive season. Christmas usually comes with high expectations of happy families enjoying perfect celebrations and gifts, but not all of us are able to live up to these standards, especially those struggling to manage feelings of anxiety. Below are some pointers to help you manage stress and anxiety that you may experience at this time of the year.
1. Plan ahead to avoid feeling under pressure
Anxiety is often fueled by conditions of uncertainty. It may be useful to plan ahead activities and tasks you wish to take during the holidays. Space out your shopping and other preparations and start in advance, which helps avoid spending too much money. For example, you can decide in advance how many gifts you are going to purchase and for whom, making a list with the names of the beneficiaries and the possible gifts for each of them, and ticking the list as you proceed with purchases. Having this situation under control will help you feel more relaxed and calm. A good tip is to break down the various chores over the weeks. About a month before Christmas you can start making a list of things to do (cards and invitations, purchases, menus etc), to be checked and updated weekly.
2. Talk about how you feel
Remember that talking helps. Anxiety often leads to feelings of having to try to do everything and please everyone, but this can create more stress. If you are the person who normally organises Christmas and does all the shopping, cooking and everything else, reach out to your loved ones for help. Your loved ones may be able to help you by taking off some of the tasks you have committed yourself to.
3. Eat and drink in moderation
It is hard not to be tempted by the luxurious celebrations and delicious food and wine that it’s on your table. However, it is important to eat and drink in moderation. If you eat or drink too much this may contribute to your anxiety as you may feel much worse later. There is nothing wrong in indulging with Christmas food and drinks just try to not eat or drink too much. Try to stay committed to your exercise and gym routine as much as you can. Make sure you exercise regularly and stay as physically active as possible.
4. Schedule plenty of self-care activities
It may be extremely helpful to protect some of your time to squeeze in some self-care activities. Self-care can be a powerful resource to help you manage the stress that comes with the Christmas holidays. Take your time to do things that are enjoyable to you and leave you with a sense of fulfillment. Meeting with good friends, going for a walk in the park, taking a warm bubble bath with scented candles whilst listening to relaxing music, going for a massage at the beauty salon, sitting in a coffee shop and sipping on a luxurious drink are just a few example of good quality self-care activities that do not require much planning and money. These activities will help you balance the stress that can lead you to feeling worried and overwhelmed.
5. Reach out
Reach out to your loved ones, speak with your GP if you feel that you may need extra support or make contact with a mental health professional. Please make sure that you do not suffer in silence. You GP may be able to refer you to a local service that can help you find good strategies to help you manage your anxiety. A mental health professional can help you identify triggers for your anxiety and strategies to manage feelings of anxiety.