Just keep breathin'
Christmas is often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year and but for us lot that experiences anxiety on a regular basis...it's not so wonderful. Sure, we're big fans of the time off work, the food and getting to listen to Christmas music on repeat but none of that good stuff can outweigh that nervous feeling that sends our minds spinning.
There are family members to make small talk with, there are Christmas outings you *have* to attend and there's travelling back home for Christmas and then there's the stress of managing our finances.
But, regardless of what aspects of Christmas turn us into anxious messes, the fact is that Christmas is coming...and fast too. It's time to kick that anxiety to the curb this year and for once, actually, enjoy Christmas without having to sneak to the loo to endure a panic attack.
A lot of time what brings on panic attacks and anxiety is the fear of the unknown. It's easy to feel a little overwhelmed over the Christmas break with all the events taking place which is why taking time out to familiarise yourself with what to expect. Discover a new haunt to frequent or suggest setting the table on Christmas day. This way, you're in control. You get to chose who you sit beside while you eat your turkey or pick a pub your comfortable in when meeting up with friends. Everyone wins.
Respect Your Limits
A lot of people will tell you to just "cope" with your anxiety and we say "hell no" to that. You don't have to say yes to every single social invite you get just because it's Christmas. If the thought of doing the 12 pubs of Christmas overwhelming, don't do it. We're not saying you have to become a hermit this Christmas but why push yourself to beyond breaking point for the sake of having a pint in a silly jumper? Instead, agree to go to just one pub. You'll get out of the house, have a drink or two, see all your friends and won't be ridden with guilt because you didn't go out.
Focus On One Person
Christmas = crowds. Whether you're facing them on Grafton street as you do your last minute shopping or your entire family are all in your house, they're there. Instead of letting your anxiety get the better of you, focus on one person. Single out one person (your cousin is always a safe bet) and make them your focus. You'll soon forget about the 20 other people shoved in your sitting room meaning you've now time to relax without feeling ambushed.
Alcohol Is Not The Answer
Sure, it's Christmas and it'd be only rude to not have a glass of prosecco to celebrate but when you start grabbing the bottle in order to cope with your anxiety, uh-uh. We get it, it takes the edge off in the moment, however, alcohol makes your anxiety worse. Know your limit when it comes to drinking with anxiety, how many pink gins before your mind becomes naughty and no longer nice?
Set Up A Support System
The great thing about Christmas is that you're surrounded by those that love and care about you. If the party you're at gets too much, have your best friend with you. They've seen you get anxious before and they know what to do or they'll just let you talk. Talking is key. If you can't have your best friend with you, try having them on standby. If you need a break from the event you're at, pop outside and give them a ring. You'll be feeling better in no time, that or they'll fake an emergency meaning you have a reason to leave.
It's All About The Little Things
It can be easy to let your inner demons take over your mind when you're feeling anxious but it's Christmas and they've no place here. Instead of beating yourself up over the fact your friend said no to meeting up for drinks or that less-than-nice-person made a snooty comment about your outfit, celebrate the small wins like how you asked in the first place and how you actually got up and dressed that day. You're trying, so give yourself a break.
We know it's the number one thing we DO NOT want to hear when our anxiety has taken over but you can't deny that it works. Hey, it's a cliche for a reason. If none of the tips above help you get through your social anxiety, remembering to empty your mind and just relax is really the only way to deal.
At the end of the day, remember Christmas is about enjoying yourself. You're strong and you will get through this. Respect your limits, ask for help when you need it, and plan some well-deserved festive activities to enjoy. You've got this!