The festive season has finally arrived. A time of year full of joy and love for some, whilst for others it can be a time of loneliness, anxiety, grief, or depression. It can be a period that heightens the feelings of a lost one or highlights the tensions within a family. Christmas anxiety can arise from several reasons.
Potential Triggers For Christmas Anxiety
- Death of a loved one, family member or friend
- Family tensions, breakdown, separation, or divorce
- Financial Issues and concerns
- High expectations for a perfect Christmas
- Isolation or loneliness
Strategies to Deal with Family Conflict
Family tensions can arise during the festive season, as families are brought together into the same area. Just because you are related to someone, does not mean you get along with them or even so like their company. Hence, to combat the Christmas anxiety of being around family:
- Avoid Known Triggers: If in the past your family has fought about certain topics or if you all don’t have the same view on certain issues, avoid bringing them up
- Prioritise the Children: If there are children in the family, focus on them. Try to put aside any adult conflict and enjoy Christmas with kids.
- Alcohol Intake: Keep track of your alcohol consumption, as even though it is a time to celebrate, overindulgence can trigger anxiety, anger or depression.
- Have a Plan: Come prepared with a strategy on how you will manage your feelings of depression or anxiety if they are triggered.
The Christmas season can easily make a hole in your wallet if you aren’t careful and cautious about your spending. First, identify what aspect is causing the financial stress and anxiety. This could be attending Christmas parties or social events or could be the act of purchasing gifts for family and friends. Next, strategize ways on how you could reduce spending in these scenarios. For example, instead of going to a fancy restaurant for lunch, have an outdoor picnic or bbq in the park. For presents, suggest that you only buy presents for the children or organise a ‘Kris Kringle’ amongst the family.
Loneliness and Isolation During the Festive Season
The feeling of loneliness or the loss of a loved one can be significantly heightened over Christmas. There are a few strategies to implement to help combat these feelings.
- Community Events: Research what’s happening in the community and get involved. This could be an opportunity to meet new people in your area. Events could range from Christmas carols, church service or local Christmas markets.
- Separated by Distance: If you are separated by distance from family or friends, organise before Christmas to have a phone call or video chat on Christmas Day.
- Volunteer: Over the festive period, there are opportunities to volunteer at local charity shelters. Volunteering is a great way to socialise with others and to make a positive distance.
Surviving the Christmas period can be a challenge. But prior preparation and having a plan for your Christmas day along with a plan to manage any feelings that could be triggered is essential.
Throughout December we will be exploring the topic ‘Wrapping Up The Year’. We will look at shining a light on mental health, and how you can survive and thrive through the holiday blues. We then look to the new year with the psychology behind how to set new year’s resolutions that last.