Published: 8 December 2021
It’s coming up to the end of the year, and for many people that means one thing – Christmas!
While it can be a time of relaxing, eating and sharing, all of that can be thrown off course by anxiety and stress. Find out more from the Health and Wellbeing team.
“Why would Christmas trigger negative emotions? Well, in the modern world where we’re connected to everyone constantly, this is the time of year when people post perfect pictures of wonderful get-togethers where everyone is smiling and the food looks ideal.
It’s obviously a far cry from reality. People don’t tend to post pictures of their real lives, only the good stuff.
The stress and anxiety comes in when we try and match our own holiday celebrations to the idealised version we’re seeing on social media.
Combating these negative feelings is particularly important because you deserve to enjoy this time, not spend it stressing about whether your roast potatoes look as crispy as the ones you saw on Facebook.
1) Put it into context
When you feel the stress, remind yourself that Christmas is just one day out of 365. If it’s not perfect you have a whole year of other days to look forward to.
Changing that mindset gives you room to slow down and enjoy the day as it happens.
Remember, if the best you can say about your Christmas is that the pictures looked great, then you’ve not had one worth remembering.
2) Spread out the cheer
Linked to this is the idea of spreading the holidays out over multiple days.
Take the pressure off the 25th by setting aside the time around it to do something special as well.
This will give you a greater sense of control over everything that’s happening.
3) Be grateful
The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on all the good things you have in your life.
It also happens to be a really positive way of keeping the stress out of Christmas.
By focusing on happy thoughts, either by saying what you are grateful for out loud or writing in a journal, you’re shifting your inner voice away from negative ideas and towards happier times.
Another thing the holidays are famous for is the act of giving. As children, and maybe as adults too, we look forward to opening presents on Christmas morning.
But there it’s been proven psychologically that’s in fact the other side of this process which is best for our mental health.
Don’t think of giving as just about the presents. Give your time, your attention, your help. Those are the things which not only promote wellbeing but also a more memorable Christmas.
5) Go for a walk
We all have our holiday traditions, whether that’s what time you open the presents or the films you watch after the big meal.
This year, why not try going for a walk with the family? Getting outside is a great way of changing your perspective, removing yourself from any stressful situations and doing some gentle exercise too.
So, try walking off the turkey and make room for dessert this year.
However, you destress over the holiday season, be sure you take the time for yourself, away from assignments and readings and get ready for an exciting new year!”
If you need to talk about medical conditions like mental health and find out what help the University can provide, the Health and Wellbeing team are here for you.