Why we can get overwhelmed at Christmas and how to regain calm

by Abigail Jane
smiling woman in city decorated for christmas not feeling overwhelmed at Christmas

Many of us can get overwhelmed at Christmas so let’s begin by exploring why…

  1. It is super busy everywhere! Increased traffic on the roads, more people queueing for carparking, heaving shops and noisy pubs with staff parties to name but a few! So it’s no wonder we can get overwhelmed at Christmas time, even when we are just trying to go about our normal business. Add in train delays, bad weather and strikes to the mix and it’s easy to see this is potentially stressful!
  2. The days feel short and cold. During December, most of the natural world is beginning to wind down, hibernate and reflect inwards. However, we are still getting up early in the dark, often coming home from work in the dark and stretching ourselves at a time where we can naturally feel less energised. We are actually going against our ‘natural rhythm.’
  3. Increased flu and cold viruses, as well as Covid at this time of year, can cause us to feel unwell and lower our immunity. This can cause us to feel really overwhelmed at Christmas when we are ill but have the pressure of still needing to attend social gatherings. It can feel impossible to stop and rest.
  4. Relationships with family members and friends can cause difficulties. Christmas can be a stressful time when people get together who don’t usually mix and are unlikely to get on. We can feel the pressure to visit relatives who live far away and feel guilty if we can’t get there.
  5. Alcohol and food can also be a cause of anxiety if you have drinking or eating disorders. During December, we can feel pressured to eat and drink more than we usually would, or eat and drink differently to how we normally like to.
  6. Financial pressures can be a massive source of getting overwhelmed at Christmas and the cost of living crisis has increased this for a lot of people.

It’s easy to see why Christmas can be a challenging time when you think about it!

How can I regain a sense of calm this Christmas?

still life with a cup of coffee and golden christmas decoration
  • Make a list or write down your thoughts

When we can get what is inside our heads down on to paper, we can increase capacity for processing and memory. If we feel like we have lots of plates to spin and have to remember everything, it can take up a lot of brain space and energy!

  • Ask for help – delegate

If you feel that there is too much to do (you can do anything, but not everything!) why not have a think about who else could support you?

  • Carve out time for yourself

Even if it’s just a moment to go into a different room, outside for a walk or a have cup of tea in the garden, getting away and allowing yourself breathing space is going to relax you and give you some perspective. If you feel overwhelmed at Christmas, be assured that you aren’t the only one! And that others will appreciate some timeout too.

  • Reduce the expectation

Try to take each moment as it comes and not to put too much pressure on yourself or others. Taking some time to feel grateful and thankful for what is here and now can help you to reflect rather than expect.

  • Set boundaries for yourself

If you know you don’t want to drink alcohol or go to all the social gatherings for example, think about why this is important to you and then communicate it to others. Give yourself permission to say no and protect your energy and wellbeing. We teach others how we wish to be treated by showing them what we will and will not accept.

  • Get as much fresh air and natural light as possible

This will help you to boost your energy and immune system. It will also help with sleep patterns so that you feel more rested. Wrap up warm and take some deep breaths.

  • Include some wind down time at the end of the day. Is there a book you have been wanting to read or a nice bath oil that you’ve been waiting to use? Small steps can lead to better sleep.
Taking time to read a book can help you unwind and feel less overwhelmed at Christmas

I hope you will find these tips helpful and you can give yourself permission to be more selfish this festive season and prioritise self care to remain well. It will benefit everyone around you when you feel less overwhelmed at Christmas.

Abigail-jane-coaching-life-coach-bristol

Hi I’m Abi

professional life coach and career coach in Bristol. I work remotely anywhere in the UK and in person for locally based clients.

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