Coping with low mood, depression and stress at Christmas

Christmas is a time for celebration and enjoyment, but if you are already coping with low mood, stress or depression, how do you still enjoy Christmas? Family get-togethers, the constant pressure to buy stuff, busy shopping sessions, and the affordability of it all can seem like a nightmare and ruin Christmas altogether.

Depression & Stress at Christmas - how to cope better

Depression & Stress at Christmas – how to cope better

When you are stressed or depressed/feeling low, the busy Christmas season can make you feel like it’s all too much. But with a little planning and forethought you might be able to take the pressure off a little. Below I take a look at some very simple ideas that might help make this time of year a little easier to cope with:

Don’t try to please everyone!
We all know you can’t please everyone, so don’t get caught up by feeling like you have to. Obviously, it’s not as simple as that when you have family, friends & children making demands on you. The key here is to take five minutes and evaluate what you can truly manage this year. Do not offer or agree to host a big family meal if you are already exhausted or struggling. Decide what compromise you can suggest that will help you manage better, but also give others a space in your life at Christmas. It may not be possible to see everyone on the big day, and you could take the pressure off by focussing on whoever is most at need of your company, or most likely to enjoy it. If a big get together is something you can’t wriggle out of, maybe everyone could get together in one location and if possible each bring a dish towards the Christmas dinner. This takes the pressure off everyone and can make the family meal feel like a real celebration. But, if it all becomes too much, batten down the hatches and look after your own well-being, limit visitors and tell people you are having a quiet Christmas this year. There is no need to feel guilty, you need to take a break.

Make it easier for yourself
In the run up to Christmas day, avoid the shops altogether and shop online. Order well in advance so that products are not sold out, and have them delivered to your door. This will eradicate the anxiety and stress of having to go to a busy shopping centre and decide on the spot what to buy for everyone. Instead, you can take your time and order online at home with a cup of tea.
Arrange for a grocery shop to be delivered a day or two before the big day. Order everything you need online and put your feet up. If you are hosting on the day, let others help! When they offer gladly accept and if they don’t offer ASK! Don’t be afraid to delegate washing up, serving or tidying wrappings away and get the younger visitors to help with setting the table. The madness of being surrounded by family and friends, cooking and entertaining can leave you drained, so mark a day or even just a few hours to relax and allow your mind to slow down.

Put Your Feet Up - Give Yourself A Break

Put Your Feet Up – Give Yourself A Break

Don’t be afraid to say no
I don’t know about you, but in the run up to Christmas, you can somehow feel compelled to say yes to every party invite or request to help with Christmas fetes, stalls, baking, work do’s etc. You can’t do it all, and if you try you will only become overwhelmed and depressed, ultimately unable to enjoy the activities anyway. Carefully analyse whether you really do want to help with something and whether you have the energy and time to realistically commit to it. If it’s another party invite think carefully before saying yes, if you genuinely feel that you will have fun and enjoy going then accept and enjoy it. But if you are only accepting to please others, don’t be afraid to say no! You can’t be everywhere all at once and you will feel such a relief if you refuse to wear yourself down. You may even have enough energy left to enjoy the big day when it finally arrives!

Avoid getting into debt at Christmas
My final tip is to avoid if at all possible getting into the red. Just say no! There is nothing that the kids can’t live without. And does dad really need another bottle of aftershave? Keep gifts small and simple. Homemade cards and gifts say much more than expensive items which usually end up on eBay! Friends and family will understand if you take a year off from expensive gifting, instead a batch of cookies or similar will show that you still care. It’s very tempting to get carried away, the shops are calling you, adverts are tempting you, but when the festivities are all over, you are left picking up the bill, so think very carefully before over spending this year. Money worries are one of the biggest causes of stress and depression, so should be avoided at all costs.

I hope that these tips might help make this busy season more enjoyable for you. If you do feel that you need support or just someone to talk to, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you and offer my help and advice.
Penny