Christmas for many people is their favourite time of year, full of joy, spending time with family and lots of delicious food. For others, however, it is a very difficult time of the year. This may be due to them feeling extra stress and pressure to have everything perfect, or this may be due to them feeling alone, they see everyone else happy and enjoying themselves and wonder why they don’t feel the same, making them feel excluded from the rest of the world. They could experience feelings of guilt, they feel guilty for receiving presents and do not feel like they are good enough to deserve them, or they could be lonely, they may live alone and have no one to share the day with or just find it difficult to be in big social situations. For whatever reason this time of year is hard, here are some ideas to help you this Christmas time.
Before the 25th comes along plan important aspects of the day, especially the ones that you find particularly difficult. This can include who you will see and at what time, what food you will be eating throughout the day, what time you will be having the Christmas dinner and what time the festivities will end. Furthermore, If it helps you could plan the whole day from start to finish so you know exactly what you are doing and when, and there are less or no surprises in the day which could trigger you. Talk to someone about your plan so they understand what you feel comfortable with, they can help you stick to your plan and can be there for you if something does stray from it. Furthermore, the food at Christmas can be tough for many people, it’s the food you wouldn’t usually eat, it’s indulgent and there tends to be more of it. If you know food is a trigger for you then definitely make a food plan for the day, for all meals and snacks. This will just help you be prepared, you will know what food is available and what you feel comfortable with eating. Again communicate this food plan with someone, this will take some pressure off you and the amount you need to eat and also hopefully stop people commenting on your eating habits if they know beforehand you have agreed a realistic food plan for yourself. Planning little aspects throughout the day that will help you feel more comfortable is a good way of helping you enjoy Christmas at your own pace.
Not Everything Has To Be Perfect
Christmas can be a very high-pressure time of year for some people. They feel that every single part of the day needs to be perfect, the presents, the food, the games, the company, the conversation, and if one little thing goes wrong they feel like they have failed. If you go into the day knowing that not everything will go as planned, things may change, some people may not attend last minute, you might forget to cook the stuffing, and that’s ok! Something going wrong does not make Christmas any less enjoyable, and can actually lead to some funny memories to look back on. Enjoy the day, with the people you are with and feel grateful for what and who you have around you, enjoy the moment and the day for what it is.
Take Time For Yourself In The Day
It can be a very overwhelming day, our routines completely change, we may have lots of family members around who wouldn’t be usually and there are a lot of expectations of things we need to do. It may be a good idea to at some point in the day take some time out to yourself, you can reflect on the day, what is going well so far, how you can prepare for anything happening later and it gives you time to simply take in the day.
This may be especially helpful if you are used to or prefer your own company, get some space from all the festivities and the business of the day and do something that you enjoy doing, after all Christmas is a time for enjoyment! If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed or just feel like you need to, take a longer break, watch a film you find comforting, read a book, or set up one of your gifts. Christmas can be spent any way you want it, there is no set way to spend the day. Do what makes you feel happy and comfortable and if this would be an hour or so alone then go for it.
If you know you may struggle with your mental health at this time for any reason, it’s a good idea to research the helplines available during the Christmas period. This way if you do get overwhelmed or find yourself panicking at any point over the next few days then you can ring up and have someone to talk to. Services available include charities such as Mind, Samaritans, Anxiety UK, Beat and ourselves Mindsum. Please do not feel alone this Christmas, talk to a family member or a friend or if you feel you need to, talk to a professional service.
Christmas is a different time of the year for everyone, and everyone’s Christmas will look different. Do what is best for you on the 25th December, keep on looking after your own mental health as that is the best gift you can give yourself.