Christmas really is an amazing time of year as a parent. Watching those happy faces when the kids realise Santa came. Actually having time with your family is so precious. However, Christmas can also be a stressful time and I, as an anxiety sufferer don’t always find it the easiest time of year. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels like this. I have suffered with anxiety for 5 years now so I have definitely learnt some coping strategies to get me through times like Christmas. I have used the word Mum in the title of this post but really, the tips I am about to share could be used by anyone. I suffer from generalised anxiety but it often manifests itself as social and health anxiety so Christmas can be a bit tough going for me. Here are 5 coping strategies I use to get me through but also to help me enjoy the festive period. After all, why should I miss out?!
1 – Be honest and open – One of the hardest things I find to do is to admit I’m having a bad anxiety day. I never really know how to just bring it into conversation but when I do manage to I start to feel a bit better straight away. You need people in your corner and by sharing how you’re feeling gives you that. No, they may not understand but knowing that they know really helps me. If you are off to a party or a large family gathering and you are worried about it, tell someone you are going with. It might help to know that if you need to leave, you can just tell them and go. Most people are always willing to support you however they can.
2 – Know your limits – I think as an anxiety sufferer it is very easy to just stop doing anything that makes you feel even slightly uncomfortable. That way of thinking left me too scared to leave the house at my worst point so I am all for facing what you fear. I try to do things that I feel anxious about as much as I can but feeling anxious is exhausting so it is important to know your limits too. For example, if you are worried about the big party, face it and go. However, just plan to stay for a couple of hours then if you are feeling rubbish you can leave. The important thing is though that you pushed through it in the first place and you never know you might end up enjoying it and forget about your time limit.
3 – Take time for yourself – There is always somewhere to be or something to be doing over the Christmas period but if self care is something that you rely on normally, don’t give it up. It must be near to the top of your (probably very long) to do list. I need a bit of time on my own every day, I always feel better when I have had it. It only needs to be half an hour but it makes all the difference to my mental health so I will be trying my very best to get that over Christmas however impossible it might seem when I look at my to do list.
4 – Shop online – Christmas shops are the worst and there are some things you just don’t need to put yourself through whether you are an anxiety sufferer or not. Shop online and save yourself the hassle.
5 – Don’t put the pressure on – It’s easy, especially as Mums to put all the responsibility of everyone’s Christmas cheer on our own shoulders. This will only enhance anxiety (I could do with taking my own advice on this one admittedly). It isn’t all down to you and if there are a few hiccups a long the way then it’s not the end of the world. Last year G ended up in A&E on Christmas Day because he burnt his hand when serving up the gravy. It was rubbish but it didn’t ruin the kids Christmas and everything was fine even though when it happened I felt on the edge of a panic attack all evening.
I hope these tips help you if you are feeling the Christmas pressure and your anxiety levels are high. Feel free to add anything else you can think of that helps you at this time of year.