Well, it's that time again. The season of goodwill to all men, of Santa Claus and baby Jesus and endless Red, Gold and Green stuff.
Even with covid-19 being a guest at too many tables, everyone is busy planning how they are going to see people, zoom people, drive by people's houses to drop presents off wearing festive masks and holding hand gel. Kids faces are getting that expectant glow, and parents excitedly buy sprouts and tinsel and bags of chocolate reindeer poo.
A time of great joy, magic and wonder, right?
Well... erm… not always.
For people who struggle with anxiety, this time of year is a minefield of potential things to worry about.
From money struggles, to fears around covid-19, to wondering if your presents were going to be well received, to the sheer horror that can surround being forced into social situations at work or even within our own friends and family circles, and so many more things that come up at those time - memories and loneliness, all the noise and pressure. It can be a lot to deal with.
You feel like you should be enjoying Christmas, like all the other people do - but the truth is that not everyone does enjoy Christmas. Or, some people prefer their Christmas a little more quiet and reserved.
If this is how you feel, then that is ok. You are not alone in feeling like that. There are many, many people who struggle at this time of year and it is important to remember that if you don't take care of yourself and what you need first, then you can't take care of, or be fully present with anyone else - including your well meaning friends and family.
Take time out to have rest breaks from it all. Schedule in "days off", and allow time for dog walks etc on days where you might feel expected to be super social. Nobody can blame you for taking a couple of hours out to go and attend to your dog. Have bubble baths and take a bit longer in them. Light candles. Colour in mandalas. Do whatever it takes to give yourself a little physical and mental space regularly through it all.
Eat and sleep as well as you can, we all enjoy Christmas sweeties but be sure to get some healthy stuff in too, and avoid a shed load of alcohol which will only make you feel more anxious over the days that follow a session. You don't have to be the life and soul of the party, and by giving yourself adequate care you will cope better.
If you are the other way and find yourself feeling lonely over Christmas, which many people with anxiety often do, then that is not uncommon either. An anxious person feels a lack of company, even though that company might make them feel anxious - it is catch 22 and is compounded at Christmas when we are surrounded by images of families unwrapping presents together and we notice our lives do not look like that.
All in all Christmas can be a wonderful time, but it can also be a bit of a struggle, and I want you to know that if you need to reach out, then you can send us a message. We may be closed for dog training over the festive period but we are not unavailable for those who might need us.
Stay safe and have a peaceful festive season.