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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Self-Care at Christmas & How I Cope

{ B l o g m a s :: day fifteen }

Christmas is a time of joy, love and family but it's not always so easy if you struggle with a mental illness. Last year I found Christmas Day & Boxing Day extremely difficult because of my depression, anxiety and the issues I was having with food at the time, so I thought I'd write this post to offer some advice and comfort to anyone else struggling this year.

Find out the plan of the day, but prepare for surprises.
I found Christmas Day a lot easier to cope with once I knew what was happening, who was coming over, when they were arriving and at what time approximately dinner would be ready. It helped me feel a little more in control when in my mind everything was spiralling and it meant I could break the day down into little, bite-sized sections. I would aim to get through each set of people / course of food at a time instead of overwhelming myself with the entire day. I also found that instead of worrying that 'maybe someone else will turn up' I would just think that they would from the start, prepare for it and then if it didn't happen it's fine either way.

Set your own goals.
My main goal for Christmas Day this year is to eat something. I don't know how I'll feel about eating a full plate of food and I don't want to give into anyone else's expectations, so I'm just going to go at my own pace and eat if I want to. I feel like there's this pressure - especially on social media - to have the perfect Christmas Day full of roast dinners and chocolates, alcohol and family time and it's easy to forget that really it's just a day to spend with the people you love. Don't feel like you need to spend the entire day socialising, either. Last year we had a lot of people around and I found it best to leave the room every thirty minutes or so just to calm down and catch my breath. Focus on yourself, how you feel and what you want from the day.

Write down a crisis plan & your most effective coping techniques.
Keep it with you, either on paper or written on your phone. You have survived every panic attack and crisis moment you've experienced so far and there's no reason why this trend won't continue. Be realistic about how well you'll cope and be sure to refer to your coping techniques whenever you need them. There is no shame in using coping techniques when you're 'supposed' to be happy and there is no pressure for you to go without them, either. Putting together a little 'self care' kit is also a good idea, and you can add little festive items like a bath bomb, a mulled wine candle or a gingerbread-scented body lotion to make things feel more Christmassy.

Ask for a little help.
Only half of the people at my house knew I was struggling on Christmas Day last year but their help was invaluable, especially Luke's. He helped me quietly disappear whenever I needed to and kept checking on me via eye contact which meant I didn't have to announce to the room if I was panicking. Having other people know helped me breathe a lot better as I didn't feel like I had to 'keep it together'. If your family are a little less accommodating, ask a friend if they can check in with you. You can message me, too, if you want to. I will always be there to listen to anyone, even on Christmas Day. You can DM me on Twitter @whatlaaurendid or email me laurenpiperx@yahoo.co.uk and I will reply to you as soon as I can. Alternatively, you can contact The Samaritans or your local crisis team.

Please remember that Christmas Day is supposed to be tailored to you and your family and that there is no shame in being unhappy or anxious or anything else. I love you, I believe in you, we can do this. And if we can't then that's okay too - there's always next year. To round things off, I will leave you with my favourite Atticus poem:



4 comments:

  1. What an inspirational poem! I'm not a fan of Christmas parties because they're always at my parent's house and a bunch of family comes over, stay past midnight and everyone gets drunk. I will probably stay in my room and binge watch something til everyone goes home. ♥

    mooeyandfriends.blogspot.com

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  2. What a wonderful post. I always feel like, I don't know, a bit of a weirdo because I find Christmas really hard mentally. In the two weeks leading up to it I get really anxious about gifts, money, cards, wrapping, where we're spending the days, who's going to get upset we're not at theirs Christmas Day etc. And then the two days are just an anxious whirlwind. Honestly, I'll be glad when it's all over again. I don't think anyone who enjoys Christmas can understand how hard it can be if you're anxious/depressed/etc. So thank you for sharing this, you've made me feel a lot less alone <3 x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

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  3. These are such great tips Lauren! There is definitely a lot of pressure around being happy and indulging around Christmas time, which is far from easy or enjoyable for a lot of people, especially anyone struggling with their mental health. It's great that you have Luke and others to watch out for you - it helps me so much too with my anxiety to not feel like I have to hide it and pretend everything's OK. Please also feel free to message me (or any of us on Twitter!) if you were really stuck xx

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  4. Oh this post is fab! Some really great tips here, and I definitely agree with what you're saying here! I'm glad you have people you can rely on when in need, and I'm sure this will give others help in being comfortable on the day!

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