Are you looking forward to Christmas or does even the thought of it make you feel anxious and stressed?
Christmas is meant to be a happy time, yet worries about money and getting ‘everything’ done or pressure to attend social events and heightened family expectations can all create a tremendous feeling of anxiety and stress. Christmas can also bring up feelings of loss, disappointment and regret, leading to further stress.
If this sounds like you, here are some ideas to help:
Think in advance about the small things that will make it better for you and what steps you can take to put those in place.
Manage your expectations
Expecting everything to be perfect is bound to lead to disappointment. Months of Christmas hype can cause us to expect too much so it helps to keep things realistic.
Allow others to help
Allow others to help where possible and organise some support for yourself in advance. This could be giving each family member a task that they can do, one to write the Christmas cards, another to wrap the presents etc. You don’t have to do it all.
Give yourself spending limits
Stick to what you can afford and you will start the new year feeling in control of your finances. Think about making presents instead of buying them; having a personal touch can mean so much more to a person than how much you spent on them.
Take opportunities to rest
Christmas can be a demanding time, so remember to use your assertiveness skills on occasions to say ‘no’ and pace yourself. Ensure you have some time to yourself to recharge the batteries. Having down-time helps us to enjoy the up-times more.
Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible. With short daylight hours at this time of year it’s easy for a whole day to pass without getting outside and we need natural daylight and fresh air to keep our spirits up, especially if we suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). So plan some outdoor activities with people you want to spend time with or go for a short walk by yourself. Whatever activity you decide on, getting outside will counteract ‘cabin fever’ and improve your mood.
Exercise reduces stress hormones, such as adrenalin, and releases endorphins which help us to feel happier. You don’t have to join a gym or take up running. A brisk walk, for instance, can burn off the adrenalin you are creating and will lift your mood.
Any time you’re feeling highly stressed stop and take 10 deep breaths. Deep breaths flood the brain with oxygen, signalling to the brain that it’s okay to calm down. This relaxation technique is also a useful tool for preventing panic attacks.
Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep can cause anxiety so plan for as many early nights as you can.
Be kind to yourself
This will be different for each of us. It might mean letting go of guilt and accepting you can only do so much, or asking for support. If you find yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in, keep a perspective – all things pass and change.
I hope that these ideas help you to have a happier Christmas. If you are still struggling, consider professional support through Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. This enjoyable process combines clinically proven techniques with hypnosis (a deep state of relaxation) to help you achieve significant positive changes in a relatively short period of time.