Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Friday, December 01, 2017

10 ways to survive Christmas

10 Ways To Survive Christmas. My guide on how to survive Christmas - banish anxiety, worry and have a stress-free festive season with my thoughtful, easy to follow tips. Find more Christmas and seasonal ideas and inspiration on my blog, Mandy Charlton Photography.

Christmas may be my favourite time of year but it's also stressful, busy, full of anxiety and my bipolar doesn't react well to it meaning a lot less sleep and me constantly being a little too high followed by an enormous slump afterwards where I start sleeping for 14 hours a day and don't want to leave the house.

In general over the years though I have become much better at self-care and I've come up with my own list of survival tips for the whole festive season. You know, most of us are struggling with one thing or another, whether that be a mental health issue or being self employed or single parenting, and it's easier to think that everyone else is having a way better time that you. Maybe they are, or maybe they're just posting selective tidbits on social media whilst they're secretly fed up or dying inside.

I don't know if this list is exhaustive but it's my attempt to glide through the season without falling off my proverbial ice-skates. Without further ado, here's 10 ways to survive Christmas.

1. Remember that Christmas isn't just one day

We often get wrapped up thinking that Christmas is all about those 24 hours on the 25th of December and because we're so focused on that we miss out on enjoying the build up and Twixtmas afterwards. I used to be exactly like this and sometime between Christmas night and Boxing Day I would have the biggest come down, I'd be so depressed. If you can focus on making each day special you're less likely to have that Christmas night darkness which can overwhelm the rest of the season.

2. Enjoy the lull of Twixtmas

In case you didn't know, Twixtmas is the series of days betwixt Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. They're the days of lull and quiet and calm, enjoy reading books, eating cheese, drinking glasses of hot chocolate or mulled wine. Try to take time for yourself, don't rush to the sales, we should be using this time to renew, refresh, recover, lets kick real life into touch for as long as we possibly can. How about trying a week of minimal spending too, and enjoying the things and people you have in your life without dashing out and buying more.

3. Don't Overdo It! 

I can't stress this highly enough. A large proportion of the population will get the Boxing Day cold because they've drank for the whole of Christmas Day, suppressing their immune system and no wonder Boxing Day is a miserable existence. I've never been one for alcohol, I'm mostly allergic to it, sulphite free alcohol should stop the hangovers at least but also remember that alcohol is a depressant and if you have any kind of mental health issue, it's probably not a good idea to spend Christmas Day caning it! If you're looking for a treat, try my list of Christmas preparation savers for some food and drink inspiration.

4. Try Not To Overspend

I'd like to hold my hand up and say, guilty, guilty and more guilty. I do it mostly every year and being self employed I tend not to work for around three weeks over Christmas and it's really late February/early March by the time my income bounces back.  This year I have things in place to make sure this doesn't happen. Do you know I don't keep any money in my current account now?  I keep it all in my savings account and it helps me to spend less as I have to think about each transfer I make.  I've also set budgets of £150 spend for each of my children, it's plenty enough for a pile of presents they want and they already get spoiled by their grandparents. They won't miss my extraneous pile of crap I usually purchase at the last minute in guilt because I feel I'm not a good enough parent. If you're looking for any gift inspiration, try my biggest ever Christmas gift guide.

5. Take time for yourself every day

A few weeks ago when I was out on the hunt for products to go into my gift guides, a lovely lady got in touch about Olverum, a bath oil which actually helps with anxiety. She recommended I try it and said she'd used it for the same purpose, and you know what?  It actually works. It's not a cure all and I'm not likely to be cancelling CBT but I lie in the bath for 20 minutes and I can breathe. This stuff is Amazing with a capital A, so if you want the best, most relaxing bath, I urge you to give it a try or you could even purchase it as a gift for someone this Christmas.

6. Don't get stressed about things beyond your control

We all encounter difficulties at Christmas, whether it be a troublesome family member, breaking down in the snow or a delivery not reaching you in time for Christmas Day. These are all things which you can't control and by working yourself into a mad frenzy you are just going to make yourself feel worse. Even if you have made some foolish mistake, just remember, when doctors make mistakes they kill people, the chances are you haven't done anything which is going to lead to someone's death. Sometimes surviving Christmas is about remembering that there are events outside your control and celebrating the imperfect.

7. Don't worry about not feeling festive

Now I could never be accused of this but for some people, for very many reasons, they don't want to celebrate or they just don't feel festive at all and that's okay. You can spend the Christmas holidays however you want to and if that means watching a Harry Potter box set, then do it, no one is going to judge you.

8. Don't be alone and lonely

There's a huge problem in our country with people feeling lonely and alone at Christmas. Maybe they don't have family or they feel isolated, you know what, no one should be alone at Christmas and whilst I can't invite you all for dinner this year I will be home for most of the festive season and even on Christmas evening so please, it's open house and I promise to help you feel festive and cheery.

9. Remember to breathe

Well this seems obvious right?  The issue is that if you have anxiety it affects the way you breathe, it then gives you pains in your shoulders, neck and head because you're so tense and there's no oxygen flow. I have a simple exercise for this. I lie on my bed with my head hanging off it and then I breathe in for 4, hold for 7 and exhale for 8, just five minutes can make such a big difference. Just remember not to get up too quickly or you'll be dizzy and fall over. Relax, breathe, and be one step closer to surviving Christmas and having the holiday you want.

10. You don't have to do everything

Christmas will still happen if you don't go to every party, if you don't prepare a dinner for 32 people. Sometimes it's okay to say no to invites and if friends are coming to your annual Christmas party it's okay to ask them to bring something or to help with the dishes.

I really hope these tips help just a little. The last couple of years I've actually had brilliant Christmases but every year there's a new challenge. This year, Abigail isn't coming for Christmas so we're having our Christmas on Boxing Day and for the first time I'm going out for Christmas Dinner. It's certainly going to be a Christmas like never before and you know what, I'm going to embrace that and you should too.


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