The holidays are coming up again. The most wonderful time of the year! At least, it normally would be. This year, most events have been canceled by Corona and Christmas will probably be different from what you're used to. We can interpret that as unfortunate, but chances are, with social anxiety, you won't be at all sad that this period is not so hectic for once.
At BYOU we know everything about your most precious time, especially during Christmas time it can be quite difficult to take good care of yourself. Not only physically, but also your mental health can suffer during the busiest time of the year. There is a lot of sociability, lots of food, drink and the pressure to spend money.
Actually, that's a real shame. Christmas is a time of love and being together. Of warmth and coziness. How do you make sure you survive the busy month of December and enjoy it a little bit? Well, just like this!
Don't forget to take care of yourself
The holidays are often days spent with friends and family. All of a sudden, the content of your days is very different and because of this, you may not always be able to stick to your routine. This means that you spend less time recharging yourself when you need it so much these days!
Her main planning advice was to schedule time for yourself first before you schedule your other tasks. That means writing down your morning routine, evening routine, and resting moments first, so that afterward you can see exactly how much time you have left.
This way you put yourself first, but you're also really there for your family and friends. After all, if you can stick to your structure, you will be the best version of yourself and that is cozy, for them and certainly for yourself.
To keep my mental health balanced I take a number of supplements. You can get many of these vitamins from food, but with the holidays, this can be tricky. Often you eat a lot of delicious things that are not so healthy. You take in more sugar and other substances that are not so conducive to your anxiety.
Besides, it is dark early and you are inside a lot, so you don't get as much vitamin D anymore. Especially during this period, it is good to take your supplements faithfully, so you do not have to miss out on that support.
Learn to say No.
Saying no will not be so easy for many of us. Maybe you kind of hate it, although you also know that it's super important to state your boundaries! If you say yes to everything because you are afraid of disappointing people it will be at the expense of your own mental health.
If you're on sick leave or mentally fragile, chances are that Christmas will be more packed than a very normal week. That means these days are going to be tough. It is not at all bad to turn down some invitations because you need rest.
Do you find it hard to say no? One of our BYOU Therapists can help you become stronger by saying No. You can book one of our BYOU Mental health support anytime, just on your mobile phone.
Otherwise, you can try the following tips as well.
Try saying no in a different way. Instead of just saying "no," say, for example, "How sweet that you think of me, but I have to say no. I'm so busy with Christmas that I'm not going to make it. You will see that this clear but loving explanation will be accepted.
Don't plan too many activities
There is an immense amount to do during the holidays. From Christmas markets to cozy nights out, dinners and get-togethers. As much as you would like to, chances are you won't be able to do everything. Not only because you can't handle it yourself, but also simply because there are only two Christmas days and you can't split yourself up.
Try to listen to yourself and your own body as best you can. Do you know from experience how many activities you can handle? Stick to this. It's better to schedule a little less and have a good time, than to fill everything up and end up not making it.
You are not obligated to do all kinds of Christmas activities. Nor are you obligated to decorate your whole house if you don't feel like it. Celebrate the holidays in your own way, as quietly as you like. Next year is another year.
One of the main sources of anxiety, stress and conflict during the holidays can be suddenly being with the whole family. Especially if that family relationship is not very good. Family can be a great source of trauma and pain. Somehow we think it's perfectly normal to be together with the whole family during the holidays, when it's far from a healthy decision.
Maybe you don't feel safe with your family at all because they don't understand your symptoms, or they hurt you in some other way (subconsciously or otherwise). Just because these people are your family does not mean that they have power over you. Your family is a given and you cannot derive any rights from it. It is not that the members of your family are more entitled to your time, presence or energy.
Don't feel guilty about putting your mental health above their expectations. Doesn't it seem wise to visit them during the holidays? Then don't. I can well imagine that goes very much against your nature and is difficult. My advice is to seek out people who have experience in this. For example, look for a forum on the Internet and talk with them.
Make a crisis plan
You may be tense before Christmas because you are afraid of situations that are bad for your mental health. This may be because of things that have happened in the past, or it may come from your own anxiety.
Write down these situations and think of different solutions. For example, have someone you can call, or a place you can retreat to. Just whatever you need at that moment. If you have a partner, you can do this together. You can then lean on your partner in certain situations that he or she is also aware of.
This way, you are prepared. You have taken the time to write it down and think about it. This will make you more powerful during the holidays!
Take breaks in between
When I think of the holidays, I think of long days of being together, eating, dining and couch-hanging. You spend about 8 hours or so in a room together. Pretty intense when you look at it that way. When I still smoked, I had plenty of moments to go outside, get out of the crowds and get some fresh air. Now that I no longer smoke I still sometimes go outside with someone when I'm at a social event.
Taking a break is one of my best tips during the holidays. This doesn't have to be outside, it's okay to go to the bathroom or somewhere in the hallway. You will eventually sense for yourself when it becomes too busy around you. When you feel this feeling rising, it is time to take a break. Not to run away, but to take a breath.
Take time to breathe deeply in and out for a few minutes. Reflect on the situation and compliment yourself on how well you are doing! The fact that you have taken time for yourself to last longer means that you are able to take care of yourself and love yourself.
The holidays are a time to enjoy, even if you have mental symptoms! You just have to do it your way, because that's the only way that works for you. Put yourself first. If necessary, buy yourself a Christmas present. You've earned it!