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Feel like you’re missing the holiday spirit?

December 5, 2022

Christmas has been unimaginably different over the past two years. While many people may be looking forward to family get-togethers and festive parties, others may find this overwhelming. The holidays can amplify feelings of loneliness for those who’ve lost a loved one or can’t spend the season with who they want to.

It can also be a difficult time of year for some people worried by rising costs, where such celebrations may not be economically viable because they’re trying to simply make ends meet for their families.

Christmas Day itself can feel like activities on an endless to-do list, and the routine can sometimes become overwhelming and stressful. Whilst we may feel under pressure to make everything happen, we may not realise how much stress and anxiety we’re putting ourselves under. And for people who experience social anxiety, Christmas can present a lot of triggers, as being surrounded by people for extended periods of time can be draining.

Although the holidays will never be stress-free, at this point in the run-up to Christmas, it’s a good idea to stop, breathe, check in with how you’re feeling, and consider how you can make the time enjoyable and relaxing for everyone, including yourself.

Pace yourself.

Try to spread out the stress – and the fun. The festive season can feel like a constant flurry of activity, but if you find socialising exhausting, put some boundaries in place. Decide how many events you’d be comfortable attending and allow yourself some breathing space in-between. If the most you can handle without feeling drained is three, don’t feel bad about saying ‘no’ to the fourth.

Set realistic expectations.

You may have to make tough decisions about who to see and when, and Christmas Day might involve burned sprouts or an argument. Examine your expectations and ask yourself how realistic they are.

  • How important is it really that everything is flawless?
  • Is that even possible?
  • What will happen if something doesn’t go perfectly?

Plans don’t always work out but that doesn’t mean the day is ruined – you can still have a great time. And don’t compare your Christmas with others’. Social media heightens feelings of pressure but remember that people only tend to post the good bits.

Focus on what matters most.

We all need to juggle demands and make compromises at this time of year but try to prioritise doing what makes you happiest.

  • What do you, and your nearest and dearest, most value about Christmas?
  • What does it mean to you?
  • Which bits do you really enjoy?
  • Is it experiences, rather than things?

Set a budget and stick to it.

Spending can easily get out of control, which adds to the stress. Consider how much you can afford to spend on gifts, food and fun, and don’t go over it.

Practice self-care.

It’s important to conserve your energy and protect your wellbeing. Being around people all day can be draining and stressful. Make space and time for yourself, perhaps by going for a walk or taking a bath. Fairy lights can feel cosy but don’t forget to try and get as much natural daylight as possible.

Alcohol can be tempting if your mood is low – but remember it’s a depressant and could make you feel worse. Lots of rich food and not enough sleep also take their toll, making you feel lethargic. Taking time to get outside, blow the cobwebs away, and get some exercise will give you a boost.

Be mindful on the ‘big day’.

It can all go past in a blur with so much happening. Try to notice what’s going on around you and cherish the ‘moments’ rather than worrying about what needs doing next. Ground yourself in your senses. Cherish time with those around you. Savour the taste of Christmas dinner. If you go out for a walk, take in your surroundings.

Join in with the community.

Have a look online or in the library to see if any local organisations are holding community events or get-togethers. Perhaps you can join a local volunteering group or charity in the days leading up to Christmas, serve food in soup kitchens for the homeless or drop off old bedding to your local animal sanctuary? Helping others can often boost our own morale.

Plan something to look forward to in January.

Once the festivities are over, January can feel like a dreary month. Book tickets to a pantomime, plan days out, have a family Burns Night evening – whatever makes it a bit brighter! If you tend to feel down in the winter months, our recent blog on beating ‘the blues’ this winter might help.

ieso provides online, typed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that is very effective for managing stress, anxiety and depression. Find out how it works here.

ieso Online Therapy
This blog has been written by a member of the clinical team at ieso.

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