By Kelly Slaney
Christmas can be a fabulous time of year. In fact, Christmas can be the best time of year. It can also be absolutely ram packed full of stress and anxiety triggers and noise and mess and chaos and worst of all…
All. The. People.
Anxiety at Christmas
Now, I’ve been an anxious mess for knocking on for a decade now. Thankfully though anxiety is a rare visitor these days. In the same way you don’t see great uncle Bob all year round till he turns up at your front door, half cut, on Christmas Eve, the same goes for anxiety for me.
I know everyone’s experiences of anxiety are different and I can only talk about mine. But I have learnt a few tricks over the years to lessen its grip slightly over Christmas.
1) Don’t over commit
There are so many social events around Christmas time – from the works night out to the catch up with the friend you mean to see all year to family get togethers.
However, saying yes (often for THE FEAR of saying no) to three parties a week when you know social anxiety is upon you is never going to end well. There’s little more stressful than knowing you’re going to cancel on people and then having to spend the whole day psyching yourself up enough to actually do it.
So choose the events you really want to go to and ditch the ones that you simply feel obliged to.
2) Give someone you trust a heads up
This is helpful if either you’re having people over for Christmas or if you’re going to someone else’s where there are going to be a fair few people and you know you might at some point need a bit of a time out. Because you might need to remove yourself from noise and over stimulation (and those damn people again) tell your partner or friend or aunt or mother-in-law. Let them know beforehand that this could be the case.
You could even use a code phrase. You know, if the rest of the family have you down as a solid individual living the shit out of life and you don’t want to blow your superhero ‘anxiety girl’ cover. If you’re at your own house it’s possibly easier to slope off for 10 minutes’ calm but if you’re at someone else’s just have a code phrase. ‘I just need to make a phone call’ ( people call each other up on Christmas day, it’s passable) could mean ‘I am just going to sit in your spare room for a bit and get my mind together, please leave me be.’
3) Seek out the company of children
This possibly could just be me but during an anxious period children are great to be around. Yes I know my previous words about over-stimulation don’t fit what I’m saying but stay with me. Just joining in with kids at Christmas can be an almighty distraction technique. I personally find it hard to worry about whether I drain everyone and no one wants me there when I’ve a small person singing me ‘When Santa got Stuck up the Chimney’ or telling me all about the toy of the year Santa brought them.
Conflict is a huge anxiety trigger for me also so I’d rather join in with a group of kids debating who the best superhero is than listen to Great Uncle Bob (yes him again) being a racist, sexist bigot. He’s basically the Daily Mail in human form and causes you palpitations just listening to him rant.
For the record: I don’t have a Great Uncle Bob…we’ve all met this guy though right?
It can be a lovely time
I hope these tips can help ease your anxiety at Christmas, even if just a little bit. Christmas can actually be a lovely time for those of us who struggle to feel cherished and worthwhile as people, because most people are at their loveliest and kindest at Christmas and freer with their encouraging words (it’s probably the Bailey’s).
I hope your Christmas is filled with as much social interaction as you can handle and that you get as much physical affection as you can cope with/crave!!
Reproduced with permission, originally posted here: 3 Tips