I have struggled with Christmastime for as long as I can remember. Everywhere seems so much busier, and there seems to be a lot more pressure to be happy and upbeat. There are more family gatherings and social events, plus the added pressure of buying Christmas presents. For someone with anxiety and depression, these things can make Christmas a nightmare.
Here are a few tips that will hopefully make Christmas a little bit better for you, if like me, you struggle with Christmas:
1. It’s still OK to have “down” days.
Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean it’s not OK to have down days. I used to feel guilty for feeling unhappy at Christmastime, but I have learned over the years that my illness is not just going to disappear because it’s Christmas. Remember: self-care. Do what you need to do to make you feel better.
2. Don’t be afraid to say no.
Like at any time of the year, if you don’t want to do something, then you don’t have to. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. I used to feel obliged to attend every single social event that I got invited to. I would spend the whole month of December feeling anxious about the events.
3. Don’t overspend on Christmas presents.
We have all heard the phrase,“Giving is more important than receiving,” but don’t take that too far. For many years, my anxiety made me feel like I needed to spend large amounts of money to buy an acceptable Christmas present. It often leaves me struggling for money for the next month or so and puts added financial pressure on me that I don’t need.
I have learned that very often the gifts I make by hand are often much more appreciated than the gifts I spend a lot of money on. I am not a creative person, but there are plenty of ideas out there on websites like Pinterest. If you do decide to buy presents, then set a budget with that person. This way you know how much to spend and don’t feel guilty thinking you have spent too little.
4. Take care of your eating habits.
For somebody who struggles with an eating disorder, Christmas can often seem like it is all about food. For most people, they see it as a time to eat whatever they like before “the diet starts in January.” It doesn’t have to be this way. I struggle with binge eating and used to always see Christmas as a time for me to eat large amounts of food in front of others without them questioning how much I’m eating.
Now, I find it difficult to eat anything in front of others. I find it even more difficult when all I hear being discussed at the dinner table is how many calories something has. Just because it is Christmas, don’t feel like you have to change your eating habits. Stick to your normal eating habits if that is what is going to work for you. If you do see Christmas as a time to overindulge, then that is completely fine as well. Don’t feel guilty about it. Remember that a few days of not worrying about calories isn’t going to harm you.
5. Do what makes you happy.
I often spend Christmas, like many others, trying to please everyone else around me and forgetting to take care of myself. Doing what makes you happy isn’t selfish. It’s self-care, and it’s important. I’m slowly learning this. Whether it is the days or weeks leading up to Christmas or it’s Christmas day itself, just do what makes you feel good. There are some days around Christmas I’ll put my Christmas jumper on, watch a Christmas movie, listen to Christmas songs and treat myself to a festive hot chocolate. There are other days where I want to forget Christmas even exists and will avoid anything Christmas related. Either one is completely fine.
The most important thing to do is take care of yourself. Don’t neglect any self-care techniques that you have, and do not put any extra pressure on yourself.
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