Coping at Christmas time

December 16, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Christmas can be bitter-sweet, moreso than at any other time of year, especially of you are already dealing with issues in your life.  It should be a time for love and happiness, but this is all too easy to forget and Christmas often turns into a time of stress and sadness.  You feel that you have to: spend time with your family; spend more money on extravagant presents and unnecessary Christmas ‘nick nacks’; be joyously happy; drink more alcohol and eat more food than you would like or are comfortable with.  Here are some suggestions to make dealing with Christmas a little easier.

FAMILY

  • If things get too much, allow yourself to walk away, get some space, take deep breaths and have some quiet time on your own.
  • Try to discuss Christmas plans beforehand, so that everyone knows what to expect.  So much is going on, why not also make a list of what needs to be done, and by whom.
  • Keep yourself busy.  Sometimes this can help as a distraction technique where you can block unhelpful thoughts from entering your mind by doing things, such as playing games which may break the ice if things are difficult with family members, or giving a helping hand, for which family will also be grateful.
  • Too much alcohol can heighten emotions, so be wary of how much you, and others, are drinking.   Having a clear head is much better in a tough situation.
  • If all your family is around, you may feel pressured to spend time with everyone.  However, if you don’t feel comfortable with this, with socialising with certain people, you have the right to keep your distance.
  • Stay with people you are comfortable with.  Let them know if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, or happy!
  • When family gather, people are likely to ask questions about you.  Be prepared and have set answers that you feel comfortable with.
  • Everyone will be feeling a little stressed at this time, remember that you are not alone.
  • If you are alone in that you have no-one to spend Christmas with, you could find something in your community such as a Christmas service, or volunteering in a shelter.

FOOD AND DRINK

  • If you are at a party, take one plate, and one glass, and don’t top-up until your plate or glass are empty.  That way, you can keep an eye on how much food or drink you are actually consuming.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking enough water.
  • It may be difficult, especially at this time of year when there is such a big focus on food, but try not to let food ruin your Christmas.
  • Eating something regularly will prevent you from binging in the long run.
  • Why not try to use Christmas as an opportunity to experiment with new foods, or food that you used to like and have not tried for a while?  You could do this with friends or family who you feel safe with, and imagine the sense of achievement you will feel afterwards!
  • No one will be expecting food issues to simply disappear at Christmas, so don’t be too harsh on yourself for not being able to eat like everyone else.
  • Discuss with your family or friends what is going to be eaten during the Christmas period, and maybe make your own plan, incorporating the food into what you are able to manage to eat.  This will stop you from bingeing or restricting.
  • If being surrounded by food is proving to be overwhelming, make sure you have enough distraction techniques to help you de-stress and relax.

MONEY

  • Plan for Christmas.  Create a budget and stick to it.  Make lists of things you will need to allow extra money for – food, drink, gifts, going out...
  • Make a list of who you need to buy gifts for, and how much you intend to spend.  One way of cutting down on spending on gifts is a secret santa.  Everyone gets a gift, but without having had to spend a fortune.
  • Spread out your Christmas shopping, and start early, ensuring you get any deals which may save you money.
  • Why not try making some home-made gifts?  There are so many resources on the Internet where you can find many craft ideas.
  • Plan a Christmas menu.  This may ease stress in that you will know what is on the cards for the Christmas period.  It will also save money in that you can use leftovers rather than throwing them away.
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