Tis the season to be jolly

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” claims Andy Williams, and for a lot of people it is.  For most people, Christmas is a time for spending time with loved ones, going to countless parties & social gatherings and enjoying yourself.  However, for many people, Christmas is a time filled with stress, anxiety, self-reflection, sadness, loneliness, insomnia and sometimes depression.

If you are worried about this Christmas, there are a lot of things that you can do to make the holidays more enjoyable for you and those around you:

Plan ahead

Leaving everything to the last minute can cause you anxiety and stress.  Planning ahead can help you save time and money.  We all have our own ways of planning with one favourite being to writing lists and keep a diary.  Think about who you are likely to buy presents for, consider what they are likely to want and how easy it will be to procure.  Don’t wait until the shops have run out of all the Frozen merchandise before trying to buy the present at the top of every little girls list to Santa!  Think about the travelling you may have to do and how much extra time you’ll need to the roads get so much busier this time of year.  Work out which Christmas parties you are going to and consider how much you are likely to get done the next day.  If all this is too late for this year, make a mental note for next year!

Budget and stick to it

Christmas is the most expensive time of the year! We buy presents, mountains of food and have more nights out than any other time of the year.  Work out what you are comfortable with spending and then stick to the budget.  Plan ahead what you are willing to spend on each person; work out your food budget and put some money aside for the Christmas parties.  Money is one of the number one causes of anxiety and stress and it is highly unlikely that the people you buy presents for and socialise with would want you to be putting yourself under unnecessary pressure for their benefit.

Don’t drink too much

Some people drink to relieve anxiety or depression.  However, alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain, increasing the risk of depression.   Hangovers can create a cycle of waking up feeling ill, anxious, jittery and guilty.  Drinking too much can add to your problems, particularly if you do something silly under the influence (and let’s be honest, we all have).  There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation, but we need to know our limits.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Some things really aren’t worth getting worked up about.  Do you really need to write a card for that neighbour you never talk to? Does it really matter if you don’t get all your lights up outside the house? Will anyone really care if you don’t get your Christmas cutlery down from the attic? Worrying about such inconsequential stuff will not add to your festive spirit.  Focus on the things that are important.

Look after yourself and be a little bit selfish sometimes

Make sure you find time for yourself.  Make some time to do things for you and only you.  Small things like a short walk, listening to music on your own or reading a book can help you relax and unwind.  Try and get some regular exercise over the holiday period.  It is well known that regular physical activity has benefits for our mental health. Exercise can help people with depression and prevent them becoming depressed in the first place.  It’s easy to put on weight this time of year because of all the parties, celebrations and endless supplies of chocolate.

Read more about Over-indulgence at Christmas

Learn to say no

You don’t have to go to every party you are invited to.  Your loved ones will understand if you can’t take part in every planned activity or event.  Over-committing yourself can leave you feeling worn-out and stressed.  You don’t have to buy every present on your child’s Christmas list, you don’t need to have everyone over at your house, you don’t need to buy everyone you know an extravagant gift and you don’t need your house to look like a show home or something out of a movie.

Supplements

Taking a traditional herbal remedy can help relieve you of low mood, mild anxiety and the symptoms associated with stress.  Ucalm® (St John’s Wort) can used to relieve the symptoms of slightly low mood and mild anxiety.  StressEeze® (Rhodiola) is used for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress such as: fatigue, exhaustion and mild anxiety.  SleepEezy® (Valerian) can be used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to symptoms of mild anxiety.

Seek out support

If you are struggling to get everything done, ask people for help.  It might be your family to help you with jobs around the house, or help with some of the Christmas shopping or the Christmas dinner.  Talk to your boss and work colleagues about anything they can do to help you.  If you are feeling lonely and don’t have people around you to turn to, consider community or religious groups.  Perhaps volunteering could help you as you would be around people and you’ll feel great for helping people in need.

Talk to the professionals

If things really are getting on top of you, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.  There is a lot of support out there – don’t be afraid or embarrassed to seek it out.  Visit Mind.org for more information or call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (UK).

Look out for others

Christmas might be a stress-free time of year for you.  Try and take notice of those around you that might be feeling the pressure.  Can you do anything to help them? Sometimes it only takes a little bit of time and effort to make a big difference to somebody.

With careful planning and positive thinking, Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year.

Have a great Christmas everyone!

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