The festive period is always a stressful time. Making time to see friends and family, present buying, card sending and of course excessive eating and drinking. It can also feel like there is an overwhelming pressure to get in the festive spirit.
This year will likely be less disrupted by the pandemic than last, but ongoing uncertainties and worries about the virus will be an added pressure! There is lots of talk about it being a more ‘normal’ Christmas and new year this year but is there really such a thing? If you think about the strange rituals and traditions and how these vary between families and households, this time of year is anything but normal, regardless of global crises taking place.
Not everyone celebrates Christmas, but most people do take part in the festivities, and it is impossible to pretend it isn’t happening even if you wanted to.
According to research by the University of Edinburgh, we all suffer from 'Christmas hormones', a mix of cortisol, serotonin and dopamine soar, causing highs and lows but mostly chronic fatigue. Come January 2 it is all over and man people suffer a real slump just as the new year is starting. It certainly can be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for many people, but it can also be a time of anxiety, stress and depression.
So how to navigate the season, and ensure you start 2022 feeling fresh and optimistic. These are all useful things to do all year round but especially when the pressure is on.
Thinking about everything to need to do can feel overwhelming. All the cards to send, presents to buy, groceries to get! (then inevitably a card arrives from someone you completely forgot to send one to and you forget something that you would never normally have anyway, like cranberry sauce!). Now is a great time to write down a simple to-do list. Get it all down on paper and out of your head. Split it into categories if that helps. Using colour coding if that works for you. A few minutes writing it down will saves you hours thinking it all over. Then as you work your way through the talks you will feel a real boost as you tick of everything you have achieved.
Just say no
We may be unsure exactly what to do about Christmas gatherings in 2021. However, it is always best to make sure you have time to yourself and don’t overload your calendar. It is OK to set boundaries and say no. You are allowed to rest and take some time out over the season to recuperate. This year has been tough, so you deserve some proper time to switch off and let go. For many people saying no is difficult, it doesn’t come naturally. However sometimes it is the best thing you can do for your own wellbeing. Friends and family will understand if you are not in the mood and need some time out. However it is also important to not go too far the other way, and to shut yourself off. Social contact is important. So strike a balance that works for you.
Plan Your Time
You will be more productive if you set better boundaries and dedicate time to what you need to do and what you want to do. Planning your time will help you get through your to do list and give you time for yourself. It is possible to combine the two (perhaps wrapping presents as you watch a Christmas movie). Setting aside an hour a day for the Christmas ‘chores’ will make everything much more manageable. If you have the unenviable task of cooking a Christmas dinner, then planning your time is really important to get it right. The same goes for all the other bits and bobs.
It is a great time to get comfy on the sofa with lots of treats and a boxset! Absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially when the weather is so all over the place. However physical health will always positively impact all other areas of your wellbeing, too. If you are feeling stressed or depressed, it can be hard to get motivated. Try and get moving. Go for a walk or a run. Maintain a balanced diet and ensuring you take daily exercise will not only safeguard your physical health, but it has enormous benefits to your mental health, too.
Everything in moderation
‘Go on it’s Christmas’ is often an excuse for indulgence! Which would be fine if that applied to just one day of overindulgence, but many people start saying that in mid-November. Most people will eat and drink too much over this period. Holding back a little will help stop the waistline expanding and also make that bit of indulgence more special. One or two mince pies are lovely – eating a box a day will probably just make you feel bad!
Whatever the festive period means to you, it should be a time for reflecting on what you are grateful for. A common practice in many therapies is to write down what you are grateful for, it is a great technique at any time of year but especially during this period when we can forget with so much going on. The festive season is a time of fun and family, so even though it can come with added pressures, choose to see all the things to be grateful for and surround.
Don’t compare yourself to others
A quick glance through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc would probably make you think everyone else is having great time. They share photos of heir perfect tree, fantastic food and many nights out etc. But always remember most of the time people are choosing to share their best moments. We see edited and filtered versions of other people’s lives. So don’t compare that to what is going on with you. Everyone will have their ups and downs during this time.
There is always next year
It doesn’t matter if things go wrong, if you burn the Christmas pudding or forget to send someone a card or get a bit too drunk at the office party! It will never be perfect, and we get another chance to do it all again next year.
If you need any additional help or support with anxiety, depression or stress then hypnotherapy can help. Also if you need help losing weight or managing your drinking get in touch to find out about the benefits of hypnotherapy. A few online sessions can make a big difference and help you achieve your goals.
Malcolm Struthers Hypnotherapy - Online and in-person in Dumfries & Galloway