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Tips for managing your anxiety during a COVID Christmas

This year, the coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to feel anxious and uncertain about numerous areas of their lives, including their health, finances and job stability, as well as the health and wellbeing of their family and friends.

As we head towards Christmas, you may be finding that your anxiety is starting to increase even further, as you’re faced with the idea of trying to navigate through the festive season during a pandemic. You may also be worried about what 2021 will bring.

If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, we have put together some self-care tips to help you manage your anxiety symptoms and look after yourself throughout this holiday season:

Plan ahead and set a festive budget

Write down a to-do list of the things that you want to complete before Christmas. Then, set aside specific dates and times to do these tasks.

Also, set yourself a budget for Christmas and keep track of how much you spend.

Sticking to a firm plan and budget will help you to feel more in control. It can also stop things from mounting up at the last minute, which would leave you feeling even more pressured.

Do what you feel comfortable with

Be honest with those around you. If you’re struggling with your finances, let people know you won’t be doing presents for extended family members or for adults this year, or that you’re sticking to a strict budget. You may even want to suggest Secret Santa.

And, if you don’t feel comfortable meeting up with people in line with the government guidelines for Christmas, communicate this to those who may be expecting you to spend time with them.

We understand that you may feel anxious about how people will react, but those who love and care about you will understand your concerns and will respect your boundaries.

It’s okay to say “no”

Christmas is a time when our to-do lists become longer, and it is likely that people are starting to ask more and more of you. If you feel you have too much on your plate, it is okay to push back and say no to responsibilities that you just can’t take on.

You may also feel uncomfortable about some people’s requests, particularly if they don’t fall in line with government COVID-19 restrictions. In these circumstances, you have every right to say no.

Remember what you can and can’t control

With the tiered restrictions changing over the festive season, you may be anxious about the impact that this will have in 2021.

While this is an understandable concern to have, remember that while you can control how you act and behave, you can’t manage how other people navigate the Christmas season. When you start to get anxious about ‘what-if’s, pause, take a minute and move past them. Going over and over your anxieties and uncertainties about 2021 will only leave you feeling worse.

Meditation and other relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, are good strategies that can help you to focus on the present, as opposed to worrying about the future.

Also, try to limit the amount of time you spend on social media or watching the news. Keeping a constant eye on figures, or seeing people breaking restrictions, will only cause your anxiety to rise. 

Take good care of yourself

Good self-care can put you in a better position to manage any anxiety-inducing moments you encounter during the festive season.

Eat well, continue to exercise regularly and maintain a good sleep routine. Also, do the things you enjoy, which could be baking, reading or listening to a podcast. Booking in some time every day to do something that makes you feel calm and relaxed can help to make a huge difference.

Share how you’re feeling with someone you trust

You probably have a lot going through your mind at the minute. Don’t bottle these things up.

Instead, speak to someone you’re close to. Having someone listen to what you are going through will help you to feel cared for and supported. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, the act of writing down your worries and anxieties can also be cathartic.

The Samaritans and Anxiety UK both have helplines, if you would prefer to speak to someone over the phone.

Access professional help and support

If the anxiety you’re experiencing has become so overwhelming that it’s starting to impact your day-to-day life, it is recommended that you seek professional treatment. You may want to start out by speaking to your GP or a mental health doctor, who will be able to provide you with access to anxiety treatment.

Here at Priory, we can provide you with access to expert psychiatrists, therapists and other mental health professionals, who will be able to help you manage your anxiety so that it has less of an impact on how you live your life.

Blog reviewed by Dr Oluwagbenga Odeyemi (MBBS, MPH, MRCPsych, PGDip. in Clinical Psychiatry), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Woodbourne

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