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How to Cope with Anxiety at Christmas.

Christmas is literally just around the corner and that can make lots of people feel anxious. If you struggle with anxiety at Christmas it could be a time of year that you dread. Although Christmas can be an amazing time, for some their mental health can make it difficult to cope.

Here are some of our tips for coping at Christmas and for making the most of the holiday season. It’s fair to say that Christmas can be a real mixed bag and it can make you feel all sorts of emotions, including depressed, anxious, excited and happy! Love it or hate it, we asked you, the TalkLife community, for some of your ideas on how to make Christmas work for you and how to overcome some of the anxiety that Christmas can cause. Here are a few that we hope you find helpful, in addition we would love to hear your thoughts too!

Tips for coping with anxiety and depression at Christmas:

1. Step outside of yourself

Try to focus on other people rather than your problems. We spend so much time in our own heads thinking and over thinking 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 yourself 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 in the calendar might help take a bit of the pressure off and reduce 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, Christmas is 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!

Also, don’t feel pressure to make things perfect for your family this christmas. 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.

It can also be easy to feel that your depression and mental health may impact those around you and that if you don’t feel great you might be ruining Christmas for others. It’s very unlikely that this will be the case and 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 so make at least some of it about you!

Christmas is your holiday too so have a think about what you could do that would make it special, relaxing or fun for you. 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 and curling up with a book. Think about what could make it a special day for you and invest some time in making it happen. It might not always be the case that we can do everything we’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 and it's holidays, just enjoy just 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, after all it’s only one day.

Christmas doesn’t last forever, I know that right now it might feel like christmas has thrown up across every tv, radio channel and corner of the internet but it won’t last and before you know it normal life will resume. So this is just for now. If you’re finding it tough and your 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 and normal life will have resumed!

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

5. Plan your christmas and prepare yourself.

If you’re someone that finds Christmas time really challenging it might be worth creating an action plan for getting you through. Are there coping strategies you can use to make Christmas a bit easier on your mental health? Can you plan to minimise time with challenging relatives or make sure you build some self-care and alone time into your schedule? Could you do something abit different over the holiday season? Volunteer with a local charity? Spend some time learning a new skill, reading a new book or using the time to 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 responsible drinking! 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 it for what it is.

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 in the midst of 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 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.