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12 Tips to reduce Christmas Anxiety

The Christmas lights are glimmering all over towns and cities, carols and festive songs are playing in shops and in the high streets, and we know for sure that it is the season to be jolly!

The prospect of office parties, dinners with friends, large family gatherings and shiny presents stacked-up around a sparkling tree paint a comforting picture of excitement and togetherness. However, for many people, the festive season can be a source of intense anxiety.

Following these simple 12 steps can help reduce your anxiety levels and prepare you to welcome the New Year positive and full of energy:

1. Be honest about your feelings

This is key to staying emotionally balanced, no matter what time of year. Avoiding your feelings or not talking about them will only make things worse. It is also perfectly normal to feel a bit melancholy this time of year because we might miss friends or family members who are far away. If you need to, allow yourself the time and space to have a good cry — get it all out.

2. Get an ally

Find someone close to you who you can share your thoughts and feelings with. Unfortunately, many people don’t have a close confidant, which makes the festive season particularly lonely for them. If that is the case, seek out community, offer to help at the local Christmas Market or get involved with a charity. Helping others and volunteering is a wonderful way to lift your spirits and perhaps even make new friendships.

3. Plan ahead

Making a list of everything you need to do can go a long way in helping you to feel in control. Chunking things down and doing specific tasks on specific days makes time management easier. Be realistic though, because we all know from experience that buying your gifts two days before Christmas never runs smoothly.

4. Stick to a budget

Know how much you want to spend on gifts. Spending your entire Christmas bonus and maxing out your credit card on expensive gifts, could fill January with dread because of the hefty bills you’ll have to pay. Hand-made gifts or a thoughtful message on a card of your love and care are often appreciated far more than you think. Christmas shopping really can be a pain!

5. 5 a day

Sticking to healthy habits during the festive season can be a challenge with all the sweet treats, large meals and lots of sugar around us. It is important to stick to a healthy regime like having 5 portions of fruits and vegetables everyday because overindulgence can contribute to feeling stressed and guilty with the arrival of New Year.

6. Stay hydrated

Alcohol dehydrates us, so drinking enough water during the day and also on a night out is essential. Also, be sure to eat a healthy snack before you go out. This will reduce the intensity of a hangover the next day.

7. Get enough sleep and rest

The average person needs 7-8 hours sleep a day, which is often difficult to achieve at the best of times. However, the fact is that there is a clear link between a lack of sleep and feeling anxious, overwhelmed and depressed. So, do your best to have an early night at least 4 days in the week.

8. Exercise

A 30-minute brisk walk at least 3-5 days a week or a couple of visits to the gym will also help reduce anxiety levels and give you some space to think and be distracted from unhelpful thoughts. Try and keep up fitness and motivation this Christmas.

9. Massage

Massage reduces anxiety because it has a calming effect in the nervous system and increases endorphin secretion, which are the natural painkillers. So, if a stress headache is making your life difficult, book a massage with an experienced professional. Apart from pampering yourself, it will allow to distress and get rid of any tension you may carry in your shoulders and back all this year.

10. Acupuncture

The practice of acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and acts on areas of the brain that reduce the sensitivity to stress. The release of neurochemical messengers stops the ‘analytical’ brain and helps reduce symptoms of worry and anxiety, which prompts a feeling of physical and emotional well-being.

11. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques, like meditation, not only helps you set aside some time for yourself but it also has the benefit of quieting your mind — focussing on the positive reasons why we celebrate this time of year: gratitude for everything and everyone that is important in your lives.

12. Have Fun!

This time of year is about enjoying yourselves. While we often feel that we ‘have to’ follow the herd and party like there is no tomorrow, it’s still your choice to do what you really enjoy. Spend time with the people you really care about and treat yourself with a special gift.

Often anxiety and depression worsen by unmet needs or unrealistic expectations. The festive season means different things for different people. Find out what it means for you and indulge yourself with the things you want to do and the people you want to spend time with.

Wishing you a wonderful and stress-free festive season and a very Happy New Year!