Living with a Mental Illness: The ‘Jolly’ Season

Tis the season to be jolly….

Apparently. It can also be a season of stress, tiredness, poverty, pressure and living life on a countdown.

Do not get me wrong, the holiday season does have its positives and me not having to work is definitely one of them.

However when you are living with a mental illness and struggling to keep on your ‘I’m fine’ mask, Christmas can be added pressure. The big crowds, the numerous social events, the big spending and the anxiety over making sure you buy someone that ‘perfect’ present. It can be exhausting.

Here are some tips for those who may be feeling anxious about the festivities.

Try and be as organised as possible

I am not organised around Christmas usually, but this year I have tried to be and feel less panicky about my current gift-giving situation. Make a list of those you would like to gift something to and then you can use it to tick off once you have purchase them a gift. Then you can work your way down your list instead of trying to keep track of everything in your head.

Important thing to remember: there is no perfect present. So stop telling yourself that your gift isn’t good enough or you should have bought more. Be kinder to yourself.

Don’t be afraid to say no to social events

If you struggle attending social events please feel free to put your needs first and say no if you do not think you are in a good place. Social events can be tricky when you are not in the best frame of mind. We previously covered some tips on going out out with friends, family and workmates.

Make sure you are not overspending

Financial anxiety can be a wave of fear and dread, so spending all your money on christmas presents doesn’t help. Put a budget together for the presents you want to gift and then have an budget for each person – if they love you they won’t question how much their present was worth, it’s the thought that counts. (If they do tell them to jog on and take it home for yourself)

For our readers with children – you can always say one present only from Santa and then one present from parents, etc. There can be lots of pressure on parents to buy multiple gifts for their kids when really they only use things for a half a year and then grow out of them. Be kinder to yourself as a parent.

Spend Christmas day how you want to spend it

Again for parents this can be stressful as you have a party of 20 arriving for a roast dinner you have to prepare… but you don’t have to do this!! You can always have a roast with your small family and a small gathering after- or go to the pub as a family on Christmas eve instead. It’s not unreasonable to be selfish sometimes and think that you don’t really want to cook for lots of people- its christmas day for you too!

Family gatherings around this year can come with social pressures as well. Political topics, controversial topics between age generations – it can get heated. If it does you are allowed to walk away from it and spend time in a more relaxed environment.

Christmas day is just one day of the year. We need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves for it to be perfect, ‘social-media’ ready or up to other peoples standards.

If you burn the roast – it’s okay! If you left the price tag on the pressie – that’s okay too!

Let’s stop supporting the commercial idea of Christmas and just enjoy some time off and look after ourselves.

Emma x

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