Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. There are a lot of things to like about Christmas. It is a great tradition. Going to midnight mass, the Christmas songs playing in town or at home, Christmas concerts, the Christmas markets selling local produce, putting up the Christmas tree, manger, and decorations, sending Christmas cards, spending time with family etc. but with all of this comes a lot of anxiety and stress. As the weeks go by and Christmas gets closer, we can all get a sense that everyone seems to be getting really excited about Christmas but not me. I think this is a very common feeling among a lot of people. For a lot of people this is a time of loneliness, stress, and anxiety. It is a time where we feel we are expected to feel joyful, happy, and excited for what is to come. We are now in the season of advent, and this is a season of waiting and reflecting on what is to come. This has been overshadowed somewhat by having to do this, that and the other before Christmas. If we can take some time to reflect on what is to come and what the true meaning of Christmas is to us, it may help us feel less anxious.
Family can be challenging
For me Christmas is not about the presents although they can be a nice part. It is about my faith and being with my family in this very special season. Being with family can be challenging because of all the anxiety and stress of ‘getting things perfect’ or family members we don’t particularly like. If we allow ourselves to remember that things don’t need to be done a certain, there is no “perfect”. This can assist us in reducing any anxiety or stress that maybe experienced.
Remember you are only human, so step away for a time, go for a walk or a drive, leave the room. The self-imposed deadline of the “big day” can be anxiety provoking. What helps me is to remember that Christmas is twelve days starting on the 25th of December and ending on the 6th of January. This assists me manage my stress and spread out the “to do list”.
Identify Potential Anxiety triggers
I usually start my Christmas shopping in early November. I’m not too bad because I have only four adults to buy for, but I know if I leave it too long, I get stressed and anxious. I do a mixture of buying and making my own gifts.
Money is another worry for families at Christmas. Here are some things I do to keep spending low at Christmas. For the last few years, I have been buying from charity shops. This is good because you can get good brands in good condition or even new condition for very cheap. Charity shops can have a lot of variety from books, toys, clothes, furniture, CD’s, DVD’s, Christmas trees, Christmas decorations to electronics and games.
Can be a lonely time
Many people can be very lonely at Christmas. If any of you are lonely, do you have a family member or friend you can ring. Can you set up a visit from family or friends? You may be able to investigate programmes such as meals on wheels. Their aim is to help people who are isolated while recovering from hospital stays and they help people transition to their home environment. My local town also has a Christmas day free meal on wheels service open to everyone where meals and presents are delivered to your door on Christmas day. You get to talk to the delivery person and enjoy the dinner and gifts. My family and I avail of this and it is a great service. Samaritans are available 365 days a year to talk to. They offer support to anyone who needs it. This includes people who are lonely. Their number is 116123. You can also email them or have face-to-face conversations with them. Loneliness can also happen around Christmas time when you are with people also. I sometimes find myself wondering how everyone else seems so happy, but I can’t feel that way. This can leave me with feelings of isolation. Upon reflection I know that feelings come and go, and I don’t have to feel a certain way because others expect me to or because they seem to feel that way too. It is important to be true to how we feel because if we fake being joyful and happy it can leave us feeling exhausted and more anxious.
Its ok to be yourself
While Christmas is certainly a lovely time of year, it is important to remind ourselves that it is ok to not feel as happy as everyone seems. We can take some time during advent to reflect on what is to come. We don’t have to spend a lot of money on presents. When things get too much with family we can step away. There is always someone to contact if we feel lonely or isolated. So, on that note I wish you all a very peaceful Christmas.
Turn2Me are running support groups throughout the Christmas period so register in advance, a lifeline Online.