The countdown to Christmas is officially on, a time that used to fill me with a certain amount of dread. Last year I really changed, I started to look forward to Christmas and this year is much the same. Some of that is down to a change of mindset, before then I found that Christmas was a ripe time for anxiety and pressure and therefore no opportunity to enjoy the festivities.
I decided that that needed to stop last year, it was affecting my loved ones around me and I felt my health also greatly deteriorated at that time, I was getting colds, I was grouchy and my sleep was affected.
Here is my guide to how I survived Christmas and what I have been/will be doing this year:
- Be prepared. I find lists are the best way, I have lists on my phone that link up to my iPads and Mac. Everything I think of something I need to remember to do I type it up. It does not have to be an electronic list, paper is also good. Whatever you use make sure you use it to record what you need to do/buy/go and tick it off when done. I use lists/calendar to record who I have to buy for and what I have purchased already, cards I need to send, groceries to buy, who I am visiting and when, who is visiting me and when.
- Shop early. To avoid financial pressures I tend to think ahead, some of this ties in with being prepared. I start thinking about gifts when I go back to work after the summer break, allowing me 3 pay days before Christmas and thus allowing cost to be spread out and less financial burden.
- Take time for yourself. This is important regardless of if you are visiting somewhere or have visitors over. This could be having a long soak in the bath, watching a TV programme on your own or listening to a book/music. This can tie in very nicely to the next point.
- Get some exercise – preferably in the fresh air. We are cooped up inside for a few days most likely with the heating on,windows shut and mingling with others all whilst sitting on the sofa watching TV. Even if you just go for a walk around the block you will benefit from being outside stretching those muscles.
- Take a break from eating. Or at least change up what you are eating, all too often we are eating rich foods or stodgy foods. I love my Christmas dinner for me its the best meal of the year with all the rich trimming it is lush. But I recognise that I feel horrible if I continue to eat rich food for a number of days. I found that having a day over the Christmas period devoted to just eating light meals with plenty of fruit evened things up, I felt lighter and brighter.
- Ask for help and accepting help. Regardless of the help you need whether you are entertaining the masses or suffering from depression/anxiety get help. There is nothing wrong in asking someone to clear away some plates or taking up someones offer to wash up. If you feel that its too much talk to someone, there are many mental health charities who are available to speak to over the Christmas period don’t let it fester, its important to speak up. Also don’t be afraid to say no, there is no harm in turning down invitations if you don’t feel that you could face that particular party or guest coming to stay. Nobody would force you to go to something if they knew it was going to cause you anxiety or upset and no decent friend or family member would barge into your home if you were not up to it. It means being firm and honest but polite, if it upsets someone after you have been honest and polite then they could not have been a good friend or family member in the first place.
- It is ok to have fun. Easy to say but at times difficult to remember. Have a laugh watch something funny on TV or play silly games, let yourself go.