Christmas is approaching with rapid steps. It’s exactly 1 week from today. While that is great and all, this time of year can be stressful and anxious for some people. Some people struggle with anxiety (especially social anxiety), depression, and stress during the Holiday season.
In this article, I invited Emma from www.mymusingsandme.co.uk to share her best strategies for managing her mental health during the Holiday season. We each answered 5 questions about Christmas and Chanukah and how we manage our mental health.
If you would like to read my own answers to these questions, pop over to her site and take a look.
1) How Do You Celebrate Christmas/Chanukah?
I celebrate Chanukah and it is by far my favorite festival. I’m probably quite biased as I was born on Chanukah – my mum jokes I was the best Chanukah present she ever had. To me, Chanukah means getting together with my family for our yearly Chanukah party. My family, my grandparents, aunt and uncles and cousins all meet for candle lighting, swapping presents and a meal.
There’s nothing more amazing to me than all of us lighting our Chanukah candles, turning off the lights and making the blessings together by the light of the candles. The presents aren’t bad either!
2) What makes celebrating Christmas/Chanukah difficult for anxiety?
There’s definitely an element of anxiety for me around Chanukah. I love spending time with my family but particularly when I was younger I would feel left out or not a part of my family and that would be a trigger for me.
Likewise, I had a very close relationship with grandparents who are no longer with us. Lighting the candles is always tinged with sadness as more than ever their absence is felt.
Lastly, all the noise – particularly now I am blessed with beautiful and amazing but very loud nieces and nephews – plus the growing number of people can feel overwhelming to me.
3) How do you manage your mental health alongside celebrations?
Luckily as I’ve grown up I am left susceptible to triggers which were a problem for me in the past. But I also have a far better awareness of my mental health.
I know to take it easy at this time of year and to really invest in some self-care. If I think I’m going to be overwhelmed I try and manage how much I’m taking on that weekend.
For example, if we have a family party on a Sunday I’m careful not to organize something for the Friday/Saturday so I have time to relax.
4) How do you prepare for this time of year?
Overall I love the winter and the family feel of coming together. I also love the festive atmosphere that I feel in the wider community around Christmas. I adore fairy lights and it’s my tradition to go and see the Christmas Lights at Kew which I couldn’t recommend more.
Having said this, it can sometimes feel alienating as someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I try and read as many blogs as possible to support fellow bloggers. But I’m also careful to read ones which I am genuinely interested in and can comment on.
Around Christmas time so many are (understandably) about Christmas but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little left out. Again it comes back to self-care. My mood also dips with the increased hours of dark. I try and make sure I have an evening a week to do something for myself.
I also have to be extra organized and prepared so I try and buy Chanukah and Christmas presents in advance. Things get so busy at Christmas so I tend to shop online and avoid major tourist centers which can feel too overwhelming for me.
5) What’s One Thing You Wish You Could Tell People about your Mental Health Over Christmas/Chanukah?
This time of year isn’t always easy for me. My mental health can take a dip and I may take a step back or not be as responsive as usual. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care or don’t appreciate it when you invite me out or drop me a message.
If anything it means more to me than it does the rest of the year. Also, whilst it’s easy to get caught up in the action please, please, please do remember those who aren’t surrounded by family or who have been having a hard time. All the festivities can make things harder.
Having social anxiety or anxiety, in general, is never easy when there are crowds. And crowds tend to gather during the Holiday season, whether it is the crowds during a sale in December or a crowd at a Christmas gathering.
The best thing you can really do is to be mindful and remember to take care of yourself and your mental health. Take breaks if you need them. Make sure you are organized and prepared for Christmas or Chanukah. Whatever you celebrate, it can still make a difference to be organized and prepared.
Do your Christmas shopping online, if you don’t like going to crowded malls. It’s important to find out what works for you and how you can get through the Holiday season without too much anxiety or too many panic attacks.
You may also want to read…
- How to de-stress during the Holiday season
- How to plan an effective budget for the Holiday season
- Can the Holiday season have a bad influence on your mental health?
- My top 5 tips to cope with social anxiety during the Holiday season