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Self-care around Christmas

Hello all,
  I cannot believe how quickly Christmas has come around this year. Usually, in November, it is me who is enthusiastically announcing that Christmas is merely 50 days away, however, that does not seem to be the case this time round! Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE Christmas, but I do acknowledge that it is also a time of the year that comes with significant challenge. 

  To those of you who struggle with mental health, I imagine that the festive period can fill you with incessant worry and negative thoughts - that is ok. It is more than ok to admit that you do not find Christmas completely merry and jolly; after all, we are only human and cannot be positive 24 hours of the day. We are all entitled to struggle in whatever form that may be. For the past few years I have struggled greatly on Christmas day due to the change in routine and expectations that come with creating the perfect atmosphere. However, what I have recently learnt is that no Christmas, in any household is perfect. What truly matters is that we are able to enjoy the day which includes looking after ourselves and taking time out when things feel overwhelming. So, if you find yourself getting consumed by the cyclical anxiety ridden thoughts that repeat in your head at night like a tape-recorder, do not feel scared about voicing them. No-one is going to judge you for talking about your worries. What would be worse is bottling up those thoughts until you virtually explode with negative energy. So, my first tip of advice would be speak up. Let people know if you are finding things too much. I find a great way of escaping the overwhelming feel of Christmas is simply by taking a walk; a breath of fresh air works wonders for the mind and body. It does not matter how stupid you may think you are being or seem: you are your no.1 priority. 

Equally, do not be scared to take this holiday at your own pace. For example, no-one should expect you to suddenly be eating the entire Christmas buffet and chocolate selection box if you have been struggling with a restrictive eating disorder. For many, many years, I used to dread the idea of the Christmas lunch because of my nasty internal voice warning me about how much weight I would pile on by eating the potatoes Mum had put on my plate. But I am telling you now - if you want those potatoes, you bloody eat them! One day of eating slightly more will not make the slightest difference to your body mass (even if that voice tries to manipulate you.) Nor will one day of eating extra make any difference to your life in 50 years time. Do you really think you will be telling your grandchildren in years to come how you regret eating those roast potatoes on Christmas?... Of course if you are in a very dark place, it is understandable that you may not feel up to eating as much as your family on Christmas but that should not be an excuse not to challenge yourself. You do not know how brave you are until you take yourself out of that comfort zone. You are in control of our mind and body. Remember Christmas is one day: 24 hours, 1440 minutes, thus, if you find yourself really feeling down, remind yourself that it will all be over by Boxing day.

I am aware another difficult part of Christmas is sometimes receiving presents. I want to tell every single one of you out here that YOU DESERVE THEM! You deserve to be treated so so not feel any guilt for allowing people to buy things for you. Try and tell yourself that although you may not deem yourself worthy of being spoilt by material gifts, those who have bought them for you will have enjoyed thinking about what you would like. Self-love is absolutely vital in restoring a healthy relationship between your body and soul, thus you need to hold trust in others that you deserve presents. On the other hand, if you do feel incredibly down regardless of the reassurance, try and tell your family about it. The worst that can happen is that they initially perceive the situation as you being ungrateful, but I promise you, eventually, they will understand. Your happiness will always be at the centre of their hearts and if buying you presents will damage that - of course they will make a compromise.

  Another part of Christmas of course is about spending quality time with your loved ones. I know, I know it seems strange to think anyone would find being with their family difficult but believe me it can. Sometimes we just need a bit of "me" time before we can fully embrace the company with others. Do not feel ashamed to tell your family that you need some time on your own; whether this be listening to your music or drawing in a note-pad, it is ok to enjoy your own company. As I said previously, it is all to easy to get swept into the idea that one must have the perfect Christmas, but that is not what it should be about. Make sure you prioritise your own well-being as opposed to trying to please others. Only you can judge your frame of mind; it is ok to ask others for a bit of space before going back to the family board game.

I hope this post might offer some reassurance for anyone who is feeling anxious about the Christmas period. I promise you it will be ok. It will be. Feelings are only temporary and you never know, your anxieties now may be completely irrelevant when the day comes. You can do this! 

Lots of Love,
Is x

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