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How to deal with Christmas anxiety

Christmas is a very exciting time for some – and a stressful one for others. It's unfortunately not that unusual for those struggling with anxiety to see it rise around the festive period.

Christmas market at night under the snow

It’s fair to say that Christmas can be a real mixed bag and it can make you feel all sorts of emotions. You might think that Christmas is depressing and anxiety-inducing, or, on the contrary, that it's the happiest time of the year.

Love it or hate it, we asked the TalkLife community for some of their best ideas on how to cope with anxiety around Christmas and enjoy the holiday season your way.

6 tips for coping with Christmas anxiety

Without further ado, here are some of the community's top tips for dealing with Christmas anxiety.

1. Step outside of yourself

Try to focus on other people rather than your problems. We spend so much time in our heads thinking and overthinking problems and this can make anxiety build up.

Sometimes, moving our focus outwards and focusing as much as we can on those around us can not only help us to feel better (and give ourselves a bit of a break from ‘your stuff’) but it can help someone else too. It’s also awesome to see the impact you can have on someone else!

"Instead of thinking of our own misery, which we do most of the time, see how others are happy and having fun, just watch and believe me it will give you happiness and joy even if it's temporary, they are part of our family and sometimes we've got to do it just for them!" – TalkLife User Humming Bee

"Just remember what Christmas signifies. All the trouble, all the work, it's worth the smiles on their faces." – TalkLife User Mr Perfect

2. Christmas is just another day

Yes, it’s Christmas, and yes, that can mean it’s a big deal but really, it’s just another day. Focusing less about it being a big occasion and more about it being just another day on the calendar might help take a bit of the pressure off and reduce Christmas anxiety.

It might also help to remember that Christmas, as much as it can be a great celebration, won’t magically change people or your relationship with them. If you find your family difficult, it's unlikely to change that. So don’t expect everything to suddenly feel perfect. But that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate people for who they are and enjoy their company!

Don’t feel pressure to make things perfect for your family this holiday season either. Life isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being real and it might sound cheesy but your presence is present enough for the people in your life and it is the moments you share, not the gifts you exchange that will carry forward in people’s memories.

If you find Christmas depressing or stressful, you might be worried about ruining it for others with your mental health. Let's make one thing very clear: it’s very unlikely that this will be the case.

Try not to beat yourself up about your feelings! Be kind to yourself and give yourself a bit of a break. You feel how you feel – and that is okay.

"Don't wait for Christmas or other holidays, in other words, for special days to meet friends and visit family. Why do we limit ourselves with these days? If we wish, we can do it a lot of times a month or a year. The days do not make us special, but we make the days special. So let us wish, plan and do it. Let’s gather our friends with no reason and make fun. Just because we care about them everytime." – TalkLife User Ram Ryan

3. It’s your day too!

You might feel more anxiety around Christmas because you're only thinking about what you need to do for others. Remember it's your holiday too! Think about what you could do that would make it special, relaxing, or fun for yourself.

What makes Christmas special for you? Perhaps it’s an early morning walk, a warm bath, a few moments of calm on your own, a run, cooking your favorite food, or curling up with a book.

Think about what could make it a special day for you and invest some time in making it happen. You won't always be able to do everything you’d like but even if it’s just a short moment, it’s yours, and that can set you up well for the rest of the day.

"Be yourself. It's a holiday, just enjoy [it] the way you like it... It's never mandatory to buy expensive stuff. Have a nice party or just relax by yourself – anything that relaxes you!" – TalkLife User HOPE

4. This too shall pass

Do you find Christmas depressing? Good news: it doesn’t last forever. Right now, it might feel like the holiday season has thrown up across every TV, radio channel, and corner of the i=Internet but it won’t be long until normal life resumes. This is just for now.

If you’re finding it tough and your Christmas anxiety is high, remember that this is only temporary and take it moment by moment. Try to keep a bit of routine to your days across the Christmas period and before you know it, January will be here!

"Take a deep breath and say 'just this once and everything's going back to normal soon'." – TalkLife User Elle

5. Anticipate Christmas anxiety and get planning

If you find Christmas time really challenging, it might be worth creating an action plan for getting you through. Ask yourself the following questions and prepare an action plan for the holiday period:

  • Are there coping strategies you can use to make Christmas a bit easier on your mental health?

  • Can you plan to minimize time with challenging relatives or make sure you build some self-care and alone time into your schedule?

  • Could you do something a bit different over the holiday season? Volunteer with a local charity?

  • Can you carve some time to learn a new skill, read a new book, or do something you’ve been meaning to do for a while?

"Plan ahead of time! Whether you're celebrating or avoiding celebrating, it's a really stressful/triggering time for a lot of us. And it's only compounded if we don't prepare a bit. Also, don't be afraid to have boundaries with relatives!" – TalkLife User sp1ce
"Do less and enjoy more! Be realistic, plan and plan, set aside differences, mange budget and don't overspend on gifts, treat yourself, mingle with family/friends, avoid too many commitments and drink responsibly!" – TalkLife User Goodman

"Rejoicing in the spirit of Christmas when people around you don’t support your case or cause, is a good coping mechanism. I’m going to cook like I’ve never cooked before! Throw yourself at something. My tip is to keep yourself happy and remove yourself from that situation." – TalkLife User Hated2Much

6. Enjoy the Christmas spirit

Christmas time can be a really special time of the year for so many reasons. Even if you find some of it tough on your mental health, see if you can find some special moments and positive times amid everything else. Be aware of the world around you, notice everything that you can, keep an open mind, and try to take things as they come.

And remember, if you need us the TalkLife community will be there to support you with your anxiety and depression or however you are feeling whatever time of day or night throughout the whole Christmas period.

If you’re struggling, feeling alone, or battling with your mental health please reach out, share how you’re feeling, and connect with others who might be feeling the same way. You don’t need to be alone, whatever day of the year it is.

TalkLife is a free global peer support community to talk about your mental health. Find out more here.

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