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A psychologist guide to surviving the Christmas season

A psychologist guide to surviving the Christmas season

Christmas is often said to be the most wonderful time of the year – but for many of us, the twinkling lights and wrapping paper can also come with stressful and upsetting elements that make the festive season difficult to cope with. How to survive Christmas, then?

Here, our resident psychologist, Joanna Konstantopoulou will look at how you can survive the Christmas season and perhaps even enjoy it, even if it is a difficult time for you.

Be aware of food issues

One of the main components of the season is food. However, in a season of indulgence and plenty, any pre-existing food issues are almost certain to flare up. Be aware of your own boundaries with food, and try to enjoy your Christmas break with no guilt. Remember that even if you usually follow a stricter regimen, it is okay to take a break, and there won’t be any ill effects. On the other hand, if you struggle to be around copious amounts of food, discuss this with your loved ones to see if you can’t meet in the middle.

Set boundaries with your loved ones

Speaking of your loved ones, family conflicts often come to a head around the festive season. These issues often arise because of the financial strain of the holiday and because you are often spending more time with your family than usual. If this rings true for you, don’t be afraid to set boundaries with your family. For example, if you travel and usually stay with your parents for the week, instead gently suggest booking your own accommodation. It can be challenging to have these delicate conversations, but setting your boundaries ahead of time is a good way for everyone to have realistic and reasonable expectations.

Engage in some self-care

Even if you do find yourself in a less than desirable situation over the Christmas season, you can still assuage some of your anxiety by setting up self-care practices for yourself ahead of time. Whether this means staying in a different location than your family, going for walks alone, or just taking some quiet time out in a separate room – these small measures of assertiveness can help you to retain a sense of normality during a trying time.

Be careful with alcohol

Eat, drink, and be merry – that’s what everyone wants to hear through the month of December! Yet, it is important to note that alcohol is not some magic cure-all. Yes, it might make you feel more relaxed and able to deal with challenging situations at the moment, but depending on it to get you through a day or more is not good for your mental or physical health. If you feel as though you are using alcohol to survive Christmas, then cutting back or cutting it out might be a good idea. In most cases, alcohol will only serve to exacerbate pre-existing issues and lower inhibitions, causing more conflict, not less. Be aware of why you drink and how much, especially around this time of year.

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Know that you’re not alone

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. With Christmas music and wholesome movies playing on repeat, it can be difficult to see that this is a stressful and challenging time for many people. You never know how other people are experiencing the season, and there are plenty of online groups and message boards that you can reach out to discuss this. You aren’t unusual for finding Christmas difficult – just do your best and take care of yourself.

We hope that these tips help you to survive Christmas a little more easily than last year. And remember, no matter how tough it is, a new year is just around the corner!

You can find out more from Joanna Konstantopoulou on her website and social media.

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