Coping at Christmas

From familial tensions and the financial burden to feelings of bereavement: the pressures that Christmas brings can turn this joyful time into anything but. Anna Williamson outlines five coping strategies to keep things in perspective and prevent overwhelm

Christmas: the most wonderful time of the year. And for many, it really is full of excitement, fun and

anticipation. But to many others, the festive period can also represent a great deal of stress, overwhelm and anxiety.  The key is to keep some perspective. They may feel all-consuming; you might feel weighed down with pressure to see family and friends, or the expectation to be the life and soul of the work party; and then there’s the credit card creaking from present-buying overuse.

Christmas can also highlight feelings of loss and bereavement. There’s nothing quite like being newly single, nursing a Snowball-for-one on your couch, or feeling the pain of a missing loved one to make you feel anything but full of festive cheer. But don’t despair, if Christmas and New Year is a tricky time, there are plenty of things you can do to help make it that little bit easier. 

  • Remember it’s just one or two days. Sure, it might feel like Christmas starts in August– the incessant TV ads don’t help – but if you’re feeling anxious or down about the arrival of Christmas, try to comfort yourself that it’s really only for a few days out of a whole 365 in a year.
  • Do what makes YOU feel happy. If going out partying and drinking copious amounts of booze doesn’t float your boat or is likely to exacerbate feelings of depression or anxiety, then be proud and confident in saying ‘no’. Never feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses if what you’d rather be doing is nursing a hot chocolate in front of a favourite film at home or at the cinema with this year’s latest Christmas movie.
  • Hang out with people who make you feel good. You may feel like you have to see the relatives over the festive holidays, but if for some reason that will make you feel even more rubbish, then remember you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Often compromise can be the most agreeable option if you’re juggling various groups of people, but don’t feel pushed into seeing or hanging out with anyone who makes you feel bad.
  • Only spend what you can. Nobody wants to receive a gift from you knowing that it means you’re going to struggle to pay the rent for the next few months. Make an agreement with family or pals about what the thoughts are as regards gifting and don’t be afraid to say what your position is and what you’re prepared to spend. Many people suffer with anxiety due to financial stress, especially at Christmas, so be kind to yourself and your purse.
  • Talk it out. Whatever your feelings surrounding Christmas, it’s always better to talk to someone about how you’re feeling and reach out for some support. A trusted friend or family member could be a good option but, if not, charity helplines such as the Samaritans are there to help. Though sometimes you might feel it, you’re never really alone.

To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email or visit some branches in person;


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