Managing Christmas stress
Posted Thursday 22 December 2011
With only three days till Christmas, Mark writes about the festive "rollercoaster of stress and excitement" and how to cope when you're feeling overwhelmed.
I don’t know anyone who finds Christmas relaxing. People either ride the rollercoaster of stress and excitement, or find themselves accused of being a Scrooge.
There’s so much to do...
It can feel like you are being pulled in every direction. Take a step back. Remember that it’s okay to say no to some things, and people will understand if you are unable to attend every social gathering. Sometimes taking time out is the best thing you can do.
If you have obligations, think about how you can fulfil these on your terms, and allow yourself some breathing space to recharge your batteries.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by socialising - smaller meets can help you enjoy longer periods of time with those you enjoy. Prioritise things, and try to avoid last minute scrambling to get things done.
The perfect Christmas. I must have the perfect Christmas
Switch on the television and you will see beautifully decorated fir trees, impressive tables overflowing with food, a plethora of perfectly wrapped gifts, and a fully stocked bar. It can be difficult not be disappointed by reality.
Work out what you can afford, what you need and what will make you happy. Keep your expectations realistic, and focus on what is important to you.
A great celebration is not reliant on elaborate decorations or gourmet food. Be flexible, and try not to succumb to pressure to create the perfect Christmas.
My family are doing my head in
Ah, Christmas. When families come together in peaceful harmony. Some relationships simply do not work, and so everyone has the choice to decline spending time with family if necessary.
However, even the closest families can be annoying. It should be a time to pick battles wisely, and let minor irritations go. Try to avoid arguments, and don’t let criticism provoke anger.
It’s a hard thing to do, but accepting people’s imperfections can set the tone for a much calmer experience.
For many, the holiday season can be a time where the absence of family or social connections can make people feel more lonely or isolated.
Connecting to people online is a good way to alleviate this, and there’s a host of things to look into, from community events to volunteering.
It can be comforting to know that there are people out there in the same position, and that you do not have to be alone should you wish for company.
Actually, I could do with some help
If things do become too much and coping becomes difficult, asking for help is always a good idea. Whether it’s talking to your doctor, or to friends and family, getting things out in the open can help put things into perspective and can help work toward a solution.
Mark is a freelance journalist with an interest in mental health. He has written about his experiences of anxiety and you can read a selection of his work on his website. His novel, Panic and the Inner Monkey was published in 2009.
Read our information for more on managing anxiety and details of where to find support.
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