For me and most of my friends, today is the last day at work. Lots of offices, shops and creative industries are shutting their doors until the New Year and walking around London this morning I really did get a sense of excitement from everyone as they bustled down the streets. (Something that I would never normally associate with Londoners EVER), because, let's face it, most of us bloody love Christmas; the music, the presents, the food, the booze, the family time, the break, the weather, the food again, because Christmas really is, pretty great. But for some of us, Christmas can be a really hard time of year.
We do of course hear a lot about people who are lonely or grieving at Christmas and for anyone going through anything of that nature, Christmas will inevitably be hard, as they are surrounded by everybody else's joy and perhaps their own memories of happier times with their families. And so I do of course ask people to spare a thought, or even make some time for someone going through that at the moment.
But that is not why I am writing this post, I actually wanted to write this on account of the fact that Christmas can be quite difficult for quite a lot of people and I feel like because of the nature of the 'holiday' a lot of us are made to feel like we ought to suffer in silence, so this is a little post for those of you that are slightly nervous about Christmas this year whether that is because of an anxiety condition, depression, disordered eating or any other mental health issue. I am obviously not an expert in but I do understand that the fact that there is so much expectation on Christmas day itself can be difficult and so I wanted to offer some suggestions:
Try and stick to your routine
Christmas day itself at my house is quite unlike any other day of my year. Not only am I met with presents first thing, which sadly doesn't happen often, but the whole eating/waking/activity schedule is different. For me my issue this Christmas will come from food. My health issues mean that I will not be able to eat as I normally would this Christmas and it is something that I have been quite worried and low about, so I have already spoken to my mum about what I can do to keep my 'routine' as normal as possible. Pancakes for breakfast, even though it goes against tradition, and something to eat at lunch time, which we normally don't do on Christmas day, in anticipation of the feast that we eat at 5pm.
But whatever your concern is, trying to stick to your routine where you can is good. Whether you need to go for a walk or run in the morning, eat something specific for breakfast or do some meditation before you've spoken to anyone, make sure you do that. Your family will understand and if it helps, then you must do it.
Make a bit of a plan
If it helps you to break down the Christmas period into chunks, then GO FOR IT. If you rely on structure in the rest of your life then the idea of spontaneous Christmas fun is understandably a little overwhelming. Have a chat with whoever you are spending Christmas with and work out what you NEED to be doing and when. In between those commitments make sure you're scheduling in a bit of down time for you to have a bath, go for a walk, or have a lie down. Make sure to write them down though and bare in mind that they are a priority.
Only do as much as you feel up to
If you are already dreading the lists of Christmas parties and obligations that you are planning to go to this weekend, then perhaps take a step back and work out if you really need to be at each one, or if you feel up to going to it. If you hate the idea of going out on Christmas Eve because you know it will negatively impair you come Christmas morning then perhaps consider sitting it out. It may feel weird telling your family or friends that you're 'too tired' or 'not up to it', but just like you do throughout the rest of the year, you have to listen to your body at Christmas too.
Remember that it's supposed to be a 'break'.
Feeling anxious and nervous is totally exhausting and if you are having to deal with that, on top of the chaos that is Christmas, the chances are you will burn out before New Year's Eve. Try not to let the stress of this whole period get on top of you. So what the turkey went into the oven half an hour late and you forgot to buy extra batteries for the Christmas lights, that won't ruin Christmas and in the grand scheme of things won't matter. When you go to bed, rather than lying awake frantically worrying about all the things that could go wrong, appreciate the fact that you don't need to be in work tomorrow and that this is a time for love and kindness and relaxing, and try to get a good night's sleep.
Treat yourself well, be kind to yourself and LOVE yourself
My favourite part about Christmas is genuinely giving presents, I love being with my family and of course receiving them but from this point on, the thing I cannot wait for is giving my family their gifts and that is something that I hold onto tightly in the lead up to Christmas. Despite this however, at this present moment I am having to battle with a lot of guilt that has come from absolutely nowhere that sounds something like this: "you didn't get them enough, they'll hate their presents, you're the worst sister/daughter/girlfriend ever, you're going to disappoint them so much". To which I am having to say to my brain: SHUT UP.
I am beating myself up for something totally ridiculous and I must stop, I need to be kind to myself and be proud of myself for buying presents that I think that my family will love. And it does help. So if you're feeling guilty or nervous or apprehensive about something, take a step back and try to see if you are being fair on yourself, chances are you're not!
So there you go. Like I say, I am obviously not an expert but I hope that you might be able to take something from this post. I am sorry that you are worried about Christmas but whilst I don't like it, I do understand it. I'm sure you'll be great and I can only ask you to do your absolute best to have as much fun as you can.
Remember that you're surrounded by people that love you and if you need to talk to them, they will understand, they love you and you deserve their love: because you're great.
Happy Christmas everyone and thank you for giving me the present in the world, this blog! Love you all xxxx