A Holiday Teddy Bear on A Stool - How To Survive Christmas And Reduce Your Christmas Anxiety - Christmas isn't a happy time for everyone. You might feel stamped if you feel a little low without quite understanding why. This post will give you some tips on how to feel less anxious and take care of yourself.

How To Survive Christmas And Reduce Your Christmas Anxiety

Christmas isn’t fun for everyone.

There are many reasons why you might not be looking forward to it.  For example:

  • Someone close to you has recently died
  • Your partner is an addict, and the holiday season brings with it the pain and worry of walking on eggshells.
  • You’re single and longing to be in a relationship
  • You have recently divorced or separated
  • A friend or loved one has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or condition.
  • You hate the cost and consumerism.
  • The child you hoped for is still a dream, and this is yet another childless Christmas.

Unexploded Christmas Bombs

Christmas, like anniversaries and birthdays, is a time when the emotional bombs you’ve navigated all year explode.  You get triggered.  And when you are with family, it’s so easy to get triggered!

A trigger is a remembering of old painful wounds, often from childhood but not always.  You may be acutely aware of some of your triggers while being unconscious of others.  You can be triggered without knowing what has triggered you or even being aware that it has happened.

Suddenly, your mood changes.  You’re annoyed, uncharacteristically sad, depressed or anxious.

At Christmas, there are emotional time bombs and triggers everywhere.  When you long to feel understood, seen and heard, you may feel powerless to control the inevitable explosions.

Why You Unwrap The Wounds At Christmas

Your triggers are linked to almost anything connected to the five senses. Smell, sound, movement, feeling or behaviour that is connected to an earlier wounding or traumatic event.

Furthermore, in relation to trauma, the limbic part of the brain which regulates emotion and memory, includes the amygdala and the hippocampus. When their development is impaired, they have a decreased ability to put traumatic events in context and to see them in the past rather than a current event.

So, if you were in a severe car accident as a child, now as an adult, you may have difficulty watching a drama with a horrific accident scene. The experience feels painfully present.

Unwelcome Christmas Presents

Here are some ways the past may feel present at Christmas.

  • As a child, if you grew up in a home with domestic violence, the smell of pine may evoke memories of the anxiety and terror you felt when your parents fought to destroy the Christmas tree.
  • If a parent left the childhood home and you had no contact at Christmas time, you might notice distancing your partner, protecting yourself from abandonment and rejection.
  • If you diligently saved up your pocket money to buy a parent a present who then accused you of stealing, gift-giving may evoke a sense of shame.  You are the one who always forgets the present at home or is indecisive in choosing one.
  • If you have internalised a belief that you are not good enough because of a critical parent, cooking Christmas dinner might fill you with anxiety and dread.
  • If you grew up in a home with an emotionally absent or narcissistic parent, and now, as an adult, a sick parent requires care, Christmas might be a time when you notice your anger and resentment.
  • Co-dependency results from such childhood experiences. As a result, not only might you be triggered by Christmas, but as a co-dependent, you might act out people-pleasing behaviours to feel validated, seen or heard.   At this time of year, that is particularly depleting.

You might not recognise any of these.  Triggers are specific to the individual.  And it’s worth noting that sometimes dissociation means that we forget.  This is the brain’s way of distancing you from the emotional experience.  In the short term, dissociation keeps you safe.  In the long term, it means that you’re not entirely present in your day-to-day experience, including enjoying intimate relationships.

So, how can you survive all this and reduce your Christmas anxiety and stress?

5 Things to Reduce Your Christmas Anxiety & Stress

1. Buy Yourself a Gift

When was the last time that you gave yourself a gift?  It’s not indulgent or selfish.  Treating yourself or acknowledging who you are is healing and a crucial part of self-care.  Don’t wait for someone else to validate you and tell you that you’re worth it!

2. Validate Your Feelings

If you’re sad or angry, accept that’s what you’re feeling. That doesn’t permit you to lash out at anyone else.  What it does do is allow you to see and hear yourself, connect with your Heart Chakra and practice self-compassion.  Imagine what you would say to a small child with those feelings and say that to yourself.

3. Practice Grounding

When you ground, you embody the Soul.  Grounding helps you stay connected to your body, the earth and the present.

Grounding is such a great practice because it increases your level of awareness and helps you manage your difficult feelings or anxiety.  Jasmin Lee Cori notes that the more you can feel contact with the ground, the more you can ‘hold your ground’ and the more you can handle.

A simple way to do this is to plant your feet on the floor and feel the connection with the ground under your feet.  You might imagine roots connecting you down to the centre of the earth. And then breathe. Try it, it works!  Walking is also a great way to ground, so enjoy a Christmas morning or after-dinner walk.

4. Maintain Your Boundaries

At Christmas, it’s easy to get swept up by other people’s expectations.  Boundaries are how you create your personal space and separate out your thoughts and feelings from those of others.  As much as it is about physical separation, it’s also about holding an emotional and energetic space.

Energy Healing Mentor Juliet Redwood asks, does a yes to others mean NO to yourself?

It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to do do, what you want to experience and what you want to say no to over the holidays.  This connects you to your internal boundaries. Practice saying no.  Experience what it feels like to hear yourself say it out loud.

Notice that you do have a choice and experiment acting from this place.

5. Laugh

Laughing and a sense of humour will loosen the sad thoughts and mood patterns that cling to you.  When we laugh, we relax, and relaxation is good for the Soul.

Over To You

Can you name any of your triggers?  Are you aware of any relationship between these factors and any earlier events?  If you want to explore your emotional triggers, get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.

Over To You

Can you name any of your triggers?  Are you aware of any relationship between these factors and any earlier events?  If you want to explore your emotional triggers, get in touch and book a clarity session. I offer video sessions online via a secure platform. 

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.


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© Sandra Harewood 2023

About Sandra

Soul Centred couples therapist, counsellor and Jungian Shadow Work coach Sandra Harewood specialises in working with women and couples stuck at a crossroads in their marriage. Relationships are precious; this is your chance to begin a new journey and experience the connection.