‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ and it’s ‘the season to be jolly’. It’s also the time of year that sees a rise in counselling referrals, even for young people. If you’re not feeling it, you’re not alone.
Long, dark nights; pressure to spend money, socialise and be happy; loud music, bright lights and constant chatter can all be too much. You may have experienced a bereavement, parental separation, eating disorder or financial problems. You may be feeling lonely, low or anxious and struggling to face each day. There are so many things that can make Christmas difficult but there are also ways to manage it.
Give yourself permission to make your own plans. Be around people you want to be with, do the things that feel right for you. If it means giving the shopping trip or Christmas party a miss, do it. Feeling under pressure to do something can make you feel even worse.
If you have no choice but to go to Auntie Linda’s for Christmas dinner, plan how it could be easier for you. Make time before and after to relax, speak to someone you trust about how they can support you. Plan to do something your own way to balance it out and talk to yourself in a positive way – “you’re doing really well”.
Christmas is just another time of year. But because you’re expected to spend money, go to certain places, eat, drink and be merry, you can easily spiral. Keep your thoughts on track – don’t stop looking after yourself ‘because it’s Christmas’. It will soon be over and you want to be in a strong position when it is.
Christmas can magnify changes you may have experienced – the death of someone close, your parents not being together, the loss of a friend, a relationship breakdown, an illness. Not only that but your usual routine of school, college or work goes out of the window. Places are closed and it feels like everyone else is having a good time. Allow yourself to reflect on what you have achieved this year, what has worked well and the skills you have used. Plan a positive activity – write a letter, be creative, start a new tradition, treat yourself.
If you feel it would help, talk to other people, get involved in activities or with a charity. You’ll soon realise you’re not alone. If you know someone who may be struggling this year, show them you care. It will mean so much to know you are thinking about them.
Christmas – there’s no avoiding it. If you are expecting it to be a difficult time, control what you can, and work out how to manage to the rest. There is always a way.
Wishing you a peaceful season from Thriving Young Minds.