Christmas, “the most wonderful time of the year” as the song goes. This is, however, not true for everyone. Many people find Christmas stressful, particularly if you’re suffering from social anxiety.
Social media, TV and films always portray Christmas as a marvellous time. Everything is perfect and everyone gets on. Having unrealistic expectations can put an incredible strain on people’s lives, which is one reason why stress levels rise, and many people can’t cope well at this particular time of year.
If you’re suffering from social anxiety, you’re probably already dreading Christmas parties and workplace meals out.
For many, the added burden of having to spend lots of money on gifts, food and entertaining increases the sense of dread. It could also the additional financial burden of new outfits for social events.
Others feel a great sense of loss as Christmas reminds them of all they have lost. This could be feeling like a failure because they’re out of work or an increased feeling of loneliness if you live by yourself with no family nearby. It could also be a loved one who passed away recently.
Whatever the reason for your anxiety, start by reminding yourself that Christmas does NOT have to be perfect. You don’t have to “keep up with the Joneses” and buy gifts for everyone, entertain with a lavish meal and be the life of the party. Do what feels comfortable for you and for the size of your wallet.
Here are some tips to get you through the holidays with less stress
NUPP (No Unnecessary Present Pact)
If you’ve watched Martin Lewis’ Money Show, you might have come across his call to stop buying each other unnecessary gifts. Christmas has got out of hand for some people. They feel they have to buy gifts for everyone, and the list gets longer every year. Stop it.
This, of course, doesn’t mean no longer buying any gifts for your children or partners. It’s about the endless list of people to buy who you think are going to buy you a gift as well.
Don’t overindulge in food or drink
Many anxieties are triggered by sugar highs/lows and hangovers. Try and avoid these triggers by eating sensibly. Enjoy your food and a glass or two of your favourite tipple, but don’t go overboard “just because it’s Christmas”. Your body and your mental health will thank you for it.
Take time for yourself
If things get a bit too much, take yourself away and do something just for yourself. Take a nice hot bath, read something you enjoy or watch your favourite movie. Have a duvet days over the holidays. Stay in your PJs and relax. This can be very grounding and gives you energy. Doing some deep breathing and meditation can also be beneficial.
Get plenty of rest
Being exhausted and not getting enough sleep can put us on edge and make an anxiety attack more likely. Make sure you have plenty of sleep over the holidays so that you feel better able to cope with things.
How the Live Well Practice can help
If you suffer from social or other forms of anxiety, hypnotherapy and mindfulness can help. I can equip you with relaxation and coping techniques that you can use over the holidays to enjoy the festive season.
Disclaimer: As with most practices, mindfulness may not be suitable for everyone. If you have any existing mental health conditions or past trauma, you should discuss these with your GP or mental health professional and these should also be disclosed prior to enrolling in a class.
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