Can I get through Christmas if I feel anxious?
Firstly, remember that Christmas will pass!
This time of the year encourages people to spend more, socialise more, eat and drink more. Activities which
are considered fun for some, can become overwhelming and even isolating for many others.
The socialising pressure
Sometimes we are encouraged to just get out there, or just connect with others or just call someone to talk.
However, doing any of those things can feel like gigantic struggles at times and there’s nothing like Christmas
to throw a spotlight on how you feel, which can cause even more uncomfortable feeling
* Maybe you feel pressure to take part in social things or family stuff regardless of how you are feeling.
* Perhaps you try to push through at times and then feel exhausted & drained.
* Or expressing how you feel might be tricky, words aren’t always easy to find.
* It’s possible you don’t want to be the person who isn’t feeling the Christmas spirit.
* Maybe you don’t want to stand out from the crowd & bring more attention to you.
* Do you wonder if anyone will understand how you feel anyway.
* Perhaps you have tried to tell others & they don’t seem to listen.
* Or maybe you have good support, or even too much support and it’s overwhelming or causing guilt if
you can’t do things with them.
All of this can be frustrating and may cause anxiety to increase this time of year
So, what are the options?
Put a mask on and push yourself to take part regardless? Maybe avoid everyone as much as possible? Maybe
reach for booze? Maybe do a little of it all?
The answer is to do whatever works best for you! However, this involves being honest with yourself about
what is actually best for you.
How do you know what’s best for you?
We spend so much time being busy that we forget to ask ourselves questions like this, we forget to check in
with us! We spend all our time in our heads, busy thinking, and planning, and remembering and worrying and
wondering. We don’t stop to ask ourselves, hey how are you? Have you got this? Do you need some time-
out? How are you feeling?
Seems simple doesn’t it, and it is, if we just did it!
We seem to avoid looking too far inside because it may be too overwhelming to know more about ourselves.
Choosing to be fearful of the can of worms we might open if we explore how we are, or how we feel.
However, to feel less anxious, the key is feeling more connected to ourselves and eventually more connected
to life overall, but firstly let’s just start with connected to ourselves!
Ways of connecting to yourself
1} Try to take a little time to think about what you really need at the moment. Not what you ‘should’ be
doing, or what others expect you to do, or about the society ‘demands’ of you this time of year. Just
what you would like.
2} Begin by trying to be open and honest with yourself. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to
become aware of you.
3} Sit in this very moment and gather your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and physical sensations.
There’s no rush. Take time for the world to slow a little. At this point allow a few minutes to pass.
4} Become aware of you. Allow your breath to slow down, take some slow deep breaths in and out
allowing your nervous system time to calm down and relax.
5} Take the time to adjust and get some perspective. Let your body slow down. Feel your shoulders
relax, feel your jaw ease, allow yourself to melt into your chair or if standing let your feet be pulled
into the floor.
6} Then have a little look around and just ‘be’ for a moment. Be present.
7} Keep your breath slow and while looking around you have a check on what can you hear? see? smell?
feel? What’s going on outside of your mind?
8} Take a little time to notice the world and space you are in.
9} You can do the above steps anytime and anyplace – it helps to take a little control of your physical
reactions to your situation and allows your mind to relax a little too.
When you feel calm and relaxed you can review your thoughts
So, at this point when the world hopefully feels a bit calmer, try to check in with your mind and see what
you’ve been thinking about recently. Try to focus and see where your thoughts have been taking you for the
past 24 hours.
Do you have a situation, comment, mantra rolling around in your mind?
Have you been busy thinking about the last 10 Christmases and the one that was awful in particular?
Do you have visuals, memories, images popping into your head?
Have you been panicking about things, maybe about money? Expectations? Commitments?
Worried about spending time with friends or family?
Take a few minutes to check in with your body
If any of the above resonates with you, also take a few minutes to check in with your body and see how it’s
feeling physically. Have you been ignoring that headache, or that back pain. Do you miss someone at the
moment, maybe your heart is struggling? Do you feel tense? Is your stomach holding your stress?
Notice your body and listen to it. Focus on the areas that are trying to get your attention. Acknowledge the
physical message, the pain messages, and the link between how you think and how you feel.
Is your heart telling you it needs time, or support. Is your throat telling you it needs rest, maybe your back has
been trying to tell you it been carrying too much too long, or maybe your belly needs time in a calmer space.
Now that you know what your mind has been thinking recently and you are more aware of how your body
feels. Consciously bring your mind to a space that you have control over, not the past or the future.
* Just be here, in this moment where reality exists, and you are ok.
* Re-adjust your priorities. Is the email that important? Can it wait? Can you order online instead of
shopping? Could you manage your thoughts and think about now rather than panicking about next
* Focus on your needs. What did your body tell you it needs from you.
* Lower your expectations of yourself and of others. You do not need to be perfect or do perfect!
* Be mindful of what you are grateful for at the moment.
* Be aware of what you find challenging at this time.
* Do you have the power to change anything causing you stress – a small change can have a big impact.
* Think about you and what might be good for you now, mentally and physically.
* Focus on what your mind and body could benefit from thinking about and doing.
Anxiety and fearful thinking
Anxiety can be powerful, and it can be tempting to tell ourselves to avoid doing things because the fear of
actually doing them is too overwhelming. Sometimes we automatically imagine scenarios that are scary,
without questioning the origin of the thought. As a result, we convince ourselves to avoid and retreat. Fear
whispers to us and says, ‘it’s ok ill find a valid reason for you to avoid the situation, it’ll be a good one and even
you will believe it!’
This next part might be tricky, here comes the honesty challenge!
I’d like you to challenge the part of you that tells you to avoid situations, or people or life.
Ask yourself if you are generally thinking from a fearful place or a loving place. Maybe you say things to
yourself like – there’s no point going I always mess up, or they won’t notice if I don’t go, or I’m happier and
safer at home.
This might be fear talking. Fear of not being included or fear of past mistakes or fear of experiencing
Would it be possible to think in a more loving way, such as:
* I might go and see how I feel when I get there, and I can always leave if I want to.
* Or I do add value to situations, I bring me and that’s good enough.
* Or I need rest time, I’ve been busy for so long, relaxation would be soothing.
* Or perhaps a digital detox would be good for me mentally, I’ll allow myself to have headspace.
* Or maybe I’m just not feeling it, and that’s ok, another time I will, but I’ve checked in with myself and
I’m being honest about the source of my choices.
You are in control, not anxiety!
Whatever it is happening for you, become aware of what you are thinking and feeling. You can take back
control if you are aware, if you are honest with yourself and if you are choosing to mindfully do what will be
good for you – which may not always be the easiest choice!
Self-compassion – you be good to you!
Remember you can enjoy Christmas in whatever way works for you. The important thing is that you are
compassionate to yourself. Ultimately you know yourself best, and once you check-in with your mind and
body it will tell you what you need.
If you can supply the time, space, love & support for yourself you will get through Christmas one moment at a time.