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Day by day tips to help limit anxiety this Christmas period

December can be a stressful month! Here are some simple tips to help reduce anxiety leading up to Christmas (2015):

1st December: Write down all the plans that you have scheduled for December in a diary or calendar. This might include things like church activities or get-togethers. Writing all your events down helps prevent the exhaustion that might result from last minute rushing around and over-scheduling this holiday.

2nd December: For many of us, the Christmas aftermath includes massive credit card bills that can take months   to clear. Christmas doesn't have to be a financial headache if you plan ahead! Work out a rough budget of your predicted Christmas costs as early as possible. Include ‘hidden’ expenses, such as food bills and overseas telephone charges. Put aside a few dollars every week or month (whatever you see fit) to help cover some of the unforeseen Christmas costs. 

3rd December: Donate unwanted items to a worthy cause, or take part in volunteer work. Not only will you be helping others, but it will also bring you joy and an increased sense of self-esteem.

4th December: Get Christmas decorations from thrift stores and reject shops- they’re just a beautiful without the price tag! 

5th December:  Picking presents for loved ones can be a very stressful (and costly) experience. Some common thoughts are: “What do you get someone who has everything?” “They got me something really nice last year, I need to match that!” We might be able to manage this by limiting the amount of presents we buy. Perhaps you can buy presents just for the children, or start up a Kris Kringle where everyone in your close circle draws a name out of a hat and buys a present only for that person within a price range. This limits stress (both mental and financial) and doesn’t leave anyone out. 

6th December: Deciding where to spend Christmas can be accompanied by guilt, anxiety, and frustration. Ask yourself who you really want to spend Christmas with and where you would enjoy yourself the most. Wherever that is, is where you should be.  Alternatively, you could surprise yourself! If you need a change, this year’s celebrations are an opportunity to do something you haven’t done before. 

7th – 8th December: The time has come to do some shopping. According to research, around 60% of Australians dislike Christmas shopping. Who can blame them? The crowds, the craziness…it can certainly be overwhelming. There are ways to reduce some of the stresses associated with Christmas shopping:

  • Make a list of all the gifts you wish to buy before you go shopping. If you wait for inspiration to strike, you could be wandering aimlessly around the shopping centre for hours.
  • Cross people off the list as you buy to avoid duplication.
  • If possible, do your Christmas shopping early – in the first week of December or even in November. Some well-organised people do their Christmas shopping gradually over the course of the year, starting with the post-Christmas sales.
  • Buy your gifts over the Internet. Some companies will also conveniently gift-wrap and post your presents for a small additional fee.

9th December: Music is a great way to lift your spirits if you are feeling overwhelmed by Christmas. Tiresome Christmas chores can be more enjoyable with music playing in the background. For some recommended Christmas tunes, see the entertainment page in this issue!

10th December: Treat yourself to something today! It doesn’t have to cost a lot, something as simple as your favourite ice cream will do, as long as it’s something you enjoy.

11th December: Christmas cards are a nice and simple gesture to let others know that you’re thinking of them. You might decide to get creative and make your own (a good idea to do with kids too!) Alternatively, sending online greeting cards via email is easy, inexpensive, and fun to create.

12th December: Be patient with yourself; recovery isn’t always linear. Anxiety can sometimes feel like two steps forward and one step back. Make sure you reward yourself for any progress you make, no matter how small it may feel.

13th December: Ask for help and support if you need it. If the stress and anxiety of the season is getting you down, get support from us here at ADAVIC (ph: 9853 8089). Our volunteers are always up for a chat, or even just to listen! You could also call other organisations like Lifeline (ph: 13 11 14) or Beyondblue (ph: 1300 224 636).

14th – 15th December: Slow down! You don’t need to buy, put up and decorate the tree all in one day. Make it an ongoing event. Hang a few ornaments yourself and have other members of the household, or even friends who come around, to gradually help you finish decorating it. It may take a couple of weeks, but at the end you will have a full and beautiful Christmas tree.

16th December: Enjoying a meal with family and friends is many people’s idea of Christmas. But remember, you don’t have to prepare this all yourself. Delegate, delegate, delegate! Work out who’s good at what, and divide up the work. If you’re planning on eating out, make sure you book in advance.

17th – 18th December: Enjoy the festive season! Many people get very creative with decorations at this time of year. Walk around your neighbourhood and see the Christmas lights. It’s a good way to unwind and enjoy the decorations.

19th December:  Don’t forget to look after yourself, particularly during this busy time of year. Today is the day to relax. You might like to watch a movie, go for a massage, or have a nice bubble bath at home.

20th December: At some point today, sit down and think about what you have to be thankful for. This can be anything, such as a supportive family, good friends, or a loving pet. Sometimes a bit of perspective can help lift your mood.

21st December: Christmas can increase stress and anxiety. It can be too crowded, too noisy, too expensive, too high a burden of expectations, and so on. It is important that you attend to the basics. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and rest, focus on your breathing, eat well, and exercise if you can.

22nd December: Don’t worry about how things should be. There tends to be a lot of cultural pressure during the holiday season where we compare ourselves to an idealised view of a “perfect” Christmas. In fact, many people have a less than perfect holiday gathering – they have family tension, melancholy, and a dry turkey too! It’s okay to not feel overly jubilant. There’s nothing shameful or wrong about feeling down during the holidays. Just make sure to get the support you need, as you see fit.

23rd December: It may be the season to be jolly, but too much food and alcohol can become problematic. Of course, enjoy yourself, but try to keep everything in moderation!

24th December: Have a relaxing day/evening before the Christmas madness. After all the hard work you have put in leading up to Christmas day, why not reward yourself by attending or watching Carols by Candlelight? It’s sure to get you in the Christmas spirit and even if you would rather not leave the house, you can watch it from the comfort of your living room with close friends and family.

25th December: Christmas day has finally arrived, and for the cook, it can be a busy one. Make sure you don’t spend all the time in the kitchen alone; invite friends and family in to help and keep you company. Surprisingly, many people do like to help and share the fun in the kitchen, so don’t be afraid to ask. Just remember to enjoy your day however you spend it!

Merry Christmas!

Tanya – ADAVIC Volunteer

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