By Racheal Chapman
Christmas is one of those events that for many, creates a lot of anxiety and stress. But no one talks about that! They talk about how magical it is, how it is the most wonderful time of year.
But if it isn't then how do we cope?
When things are overwhelming, we need to have a clear plan of what we need to do to protect ourselves. We need to know our safe spaces, and how to ensure that we can be as happy as possible at what can be a tricky time.
Different people have different coping strategies...
Some people need to be surrounded by those that hold nearest and dearest. People who understand them, accept them and will support them. They may need to be in a room full of love, and laughter, and chit-chat. To get involved in games, getting cosy on the sofa, sharing festive foods. You may even love to be the one that hosts, getting joy from seeing others fed and happy.
* PLAN: Do you need to fill your calendar so that you are maximising the time you have to spend with those you cherish? Organise different friends, family or neighbours to visit or have round? Be realistic though, a solid 5-7 days of being surrounded by others may be exhausting so don't start the new year too frazzled!
Others however may need to take some time out - go for a walk, read a book in front of a warm fire, have a drive through local towns and villages immersing themselves in the prettiness of the lights and decorations, or even taking a mid afternoon nap to recharge the batteries.
* PLAN: Have you put rest breaks in to your Christmas schedule? If you are visiting other people, can you take a book or your headphones and ask them to use a spare room if you need 30 minutes out? Can you plan a walk part way through the day to get some fresh air and headspace?
It's easy to get caught up in the expectations of others, especially at this time of year. But be realistic, and be honest. People will understand and appreciate it. Most of all YOU will appreciate it.
So whilst finding peace amidst the chaos can be tricky, if you know your own mind and body and you know what works for you, then you can plan to do what it is YOU need to do to look out for yourself over the festive period.