So I’m just gonna say it… I don’t like Christmas. There. It’s out into the world now. My name’s Hannah and I’m a Christmas grinch!
To be honest I’ve never really been a fan since I was a teenager; I find this time of year super stressful and draining. I worry that I need to be having the best time, to be in the best mood and to be spending lots of money that I don’t have. I feel like it always sets me up for a massive mental health crash in January too.
I also have a heavy heart this time of year since my brother passed away. His birthday was at the end of November and used to signal the start of Christmas shenanigans but now it just magnifies the hole in my life where he isn’t. To me, Christmas is all about spending time with your nearest and dearest. Without him my heart hurts for my family to be whole, and for me to watch him tear into the Christmas pressies under the tree and to make everyone laugh over Christmas dinner once again. It’s just not the same anymore. And to be honest, the pain makes me a bit of a Christmas hater 🙁
I know I’m not the only one. Christmas is hella hard for so many people. Whether it’s because of bereavement, money issues, family problems, loneliness, poor mental health, illness and a whole host of other reasons. Sometimes it’s just hard.
SO I wanted to put together a couple of bits of advice that I’ve picked up over the years that help me get through this time in the hope that it might help you whether you’re just a little fried, or whether you’re struggling with something bigger.
First off, it’s totally fine to feel down this time of year. You’re not weird. Everyone is different and you don’t have to fit yourself into a Christmas jumper wearing, tinsel covered, fake snow blowing box. If people think you’re odd, sod ‘em. If people pull faces when you say you’re not into Christmas or you’re not celebrating this year just sing Blink 182’s classic ‘Happy Holidays’ track really loudly in their faces (actually don’t do that – it’s full of swears and will make you look bonkers.) But do let it just flow past you like water off a duck’s back. They don’t understand what you’re going through and can’t empathise. That doesn’t make them bad people. They just don’t get it and that’s OK too. Everyone’s kinda stressed and worrying about their own stuff. Let them be happy and eat their Christmas cake! You just focus on you!
The first Christmas after my bro passed away, we had some great advice that we should do Christmas however we wanted, we just had to get through it. If memory serves we didn’t really put decorations up. I cooked myself a chilli on Christmas day (and then proceeded for years after to have my infamous Christmas chilli instead of a traditional dinner). We did minimal presents and mostly spent the day at my brother’s grave and then popped to the pub to see friends. Years after that we worked every Christmas to give other people a happy day instead of focusing on our loss. Now we go away and have made new traditions each year. We’ve done things how WE wanted and we did as much as our mental health could handle. When we needed a break or to hunker down and stay home for a chill out, we did! Do what you want to. Take a trip! Do the opposite of what you’d normally do! Hibernate and focus on bringing the hygge vibes to your festive season*. Have a low key one. Stay in bed! Whatever works for you- there are no rules for how you should spend your Christmas. It’s your life. You choose.
*Si put together a little Hygge explanation and play list a while back if you’re looking for any cute cosy inspiration! LISTEN TO IT HERE!
Sometimes we sound like a broken record at HATW but seriously, since hitting my 30’s (sweet Jesus!) I’ve noticed how much my mood is affected by these things. If you’re feeling a bit rubbish then give yourself a boost of that sweet, sweet happiness chemical-our old friend serotonin! Go for a walk, pop to the gym (it’s bound to be quiet; no-ones working out over Christmas) or even just pop some tunes on and have a dance round your kitchen whilst making your festive chilli or whatever!
Make sure you’re treating yourself to whatever festive snacks take your fancy, but try and get that lovely balance of lots of fruit and veg too! Make some good choices and try and eat something green every day! Your body will thank you, and you’ll feel better – we guarantee!
This is a good chance to unwind too. Use those bath bombs you’ve been holding onto or try out a mediation app and use it when your day gets a bit fraught! Take little cosy naps when you can, or sort out your night time routine so you’re getting a good amount of deep rest every night. All of these things are gonna help your mind and body feel more resilient to the things life throws at you.
If you’re wanting to keep yourself busy we suggest getting involved in some charity work! That could be donating some time on Christmas day to a food bank, volunteering at a care home or feeding homeless people. It could be popping round to see a neighbour who you know will be on their own, or having a long call/FaceTime with a family member you haven’t spoken to for a while. Doing something for someone else always leaves us feeling a little lighter. If you can’t cheer yourself up then it’s nice to channel those feelings into helping someone else.
Wanna sit in your room and play video games? Great. Wanna catch up with friends and lay low for family stuff? Fine! Wanna set some time away from technology and try and have a detox if you think that might help your mental health? Fab! I know it works wonders for me and my pals! Get your self-care on in a big way.
When we say self-care we’re asking you guys to reflect on how you’re feeling and to take notice. We want you to think about what you can do that will give you some respite in this time. It’s going to be so different for everyone but we urge you to put yourself first. Take that space and time when you need it!
If you know there’s unavoidable things like stressful family time or if you’re having to work over Christmas make sure you’re balancing out the tough stuff with something that makes you happy. Try and focus on what you’re grateful for from the year and make a gratitude list, or a list of things you want to accomplish in 2020! Do things that bring you joy, surround yourself with people who want to lift you up, and most importantly take care!
This feeling will pass, 2020 is on the horizon and will bring a whole new set of experiences, relationships and emotions with it. Just hold on and keep pushing forward. Things do change and become less painful with time. I can promise you that. Just adapt, and get through it.
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