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Christmas: It’s the most wonderful time of year… or is it?

Author: L.Young

It’s that time of year when the lights are twinkling and festive cheer is all around. I love Christmas as much as everyone else… Spending quality family time. Cosying up in front of the fire. Crying to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ for the hundredth time and the most important thing, eating your bodyweight in cheese.

However Christmas can also be a difficult time especially for people who suffer with anxiety. When you are struggling with your mental health you can feel alone and secluded from other people but these symptoms can deteriorate during the festive period. The pressure of having to socialise with lots of different people. Scrolling through Instagram seeing everyone having the ‘best’ time and feeling like you have to put on an act instead of being yourself.

Conscious of ‘killing the Christmas vibe,’ it can be hard to admit to others around you that you are feeling vulnerable and need support.

My top tips for dealing with anxiety at Christmas

•   Speak to someone
If you are struggling, opening up to someone can feel like a weight has been lifted off you. Confiding in a family member/friend can make you feel supported and also allows someone to understand if you need to take a moment on your own for a breather.

•   Don’t overindulge
I know it is hard to not be tempted by all the delicious food especially the Quality Street tubs that just randomly appear after the Christmas dinner but try not to overeat. Food, especially caffeine and sugar, can really affect your mood. So be aware of the amount you are eating.

•   Get some fresh air
Whether it is going for a walk after your Christmas dinner or going for a run to counteract all those Yorkshire puddings, exercise can really help your mental health. You can get everyone in the family involved for a family walk as well, perfect excuse to be mindful in the countryside.

•   Get a good night’s sleep
During the festive period our sleep patterns are all out of sync. There is more socialising and we often stay up a lot later than usual. Tiredness can have a negative impact on your mental health. So make sure you don’t neglect your sleep and enjoy those lie-ins as well.

•   Take a break
You can feel the pressure of having to be constantly talking to people but know it is okay to take a break. Catch up on your favourite series, have a bath or listen to a podcast. Self-care is extremely important at Christmas time as well.

Remember this time of the year doesn’t always have to be perfect. As long as you are looking after yourself and you are healthy. That is the best Christmas present you could ask for.

If you are struggling and need to talk to someone please call NHS 111 or Samaritans 116123 or go to A&E if you are in crisis.