Christmas Stress: How to Survive Chrimbo Limbo

Christmas. An exquisitely decorated tree, gifts and chuckling family members sofa bound, shamelessly munching on Quality Streets. What is there to stress about?

In truth, it won’t surprise anyone that Christmas can be very stressful. Mind Charity reports that 1 in 10 people feel unable to cope, and nearly 60% of people have experienced panic attacks over the festive period.

The time between Boxing Day and New Year influences our mental health and emotional well-being in a particular way. This time is commonly referred to as ‘Chrimbo Limbo’ which describes the awkward stretch between celebrations that leaves some people feeling void, anxious and depressed. So, why do we experience Chrimbo Limbo and what can we do to prevent it?

Why do we experience Chrimbo Limbo?

Chrimbo Limbo is caused by the emotional turmoil of modern Christmas. In the weeks leading up to the big day we experience an increased workload which increases stress levels. 19% of workers have even pretended to be sick to get out of their Christmas party! There’s lots to plan and lots to buy which can disrupt a normal routine and make us stressed about various things such as money.

When the day is finally here, we experience the emotional high which accompanies the magic of Christmas Day. Everything comes together. However, despite being genuinely enjoyable, Christmas day itself may cause even more stress. The family members whose political ideals are far from our own might spark up a debate over dinner. Chocolate filled children might begin a game of tag in the kitchen right as a hot turkey is lifted from the oven. There’s a million ways the day could go wrong and each hiccup needs addressing swiftly and seamlessly so as not to disrupt the Christmas cheer.

Finally, when Christmas day is over and done with, an inability to meet inflated festive expectations might leave us feeling empty and inadequate despite all the hard work. Financial limitations might mean that everyone didn’t get the gifts they wanted. A family member who is always present might be unable to attend this year. Once boxing day passes, we are left hungover, heavier, socially exhausted and confused about whether all that stress was worth it. The Christmas period in usually accompanied by alcohol, high calorie foods and a lack of exercise. All of which are known to have negative effects on Mental Health and Emotional wellbeing, so, it is unsurprising that Chrimbo Limbo effects so many.

How can we combat Chrimbo Limbo and Christmas Stress in general?

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Christmas has been sensationalised to the point of perfection. However, aiming for the perfect Christmas is impossible and will only cause stress. Try to be realistic about your limitations in relation to money and time this Christmas. If you don’t have the time to decorate the whole house, some minimal decorations like a wreath and a modest tree will be enough. If you don’t have the time to perfectly wrap presents, take a short cut and look after the planet by using recycled newspaper instead. E-Christmas Cards are great time-savers as well. If you can’t afford expensive gifts, don’t buy them! Remember, Christmas is meant to be about spending time with each other, not spending money on each other. By setting realistic expectations, you can avoid the stress that comes with panicking to get everything done in time, or worse going into debt this Christmas.

2. Maintaining your Self-Care Routine

Just because the western world focuses solely on Christmas for the month of December doesn’t mean you have to. Your main priority is still your health, which includes mental health. Regardless of what you do for self-care, be that reading, writing, exercise, being outside or meditation, make sure you’re still doing it throughout the festive period. Especially during Chrimbo Limbo where a lack of celebration and normality leaves you astray. If you find yourself watching repeats of Christmas specials and persevering with the chocolates no one wanted, it might be time to abandon Christmas for half an hour and do something for yourself.

3. Spend time alone

Spending time with family and friends is an important aspect of Christmas. It allows you to catch up and share your experiences of the year gone by, maintaining important relationships and support networks. However, having lots of genuine conversations can be emotionally draining. Intense family time as well as other Christmas Stress makes it important to spend time alone during Chrimbo Limbo. When things get too much, take yourself away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Make a cup of tea and lock the bedroom/bathroom door, whichever’s readily available to you. Take a deep breath and allow yourself 5 minutes to be quiet and wind down.

Altruist Enterprises are a passionate and caring provider of Resilience and Stress Management Training and Mental Health at Work training, delivered face to face and online to organisations nationally. Find out more about our employee wellness training courses.

Jasmine in a dedicated Marketing Assistant and Mental Health Facilitator with excellent creative and communication skills. She is also a Mental Health Advocate who seeks to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health through journalism and has recently been published by The Huffington Post. Jasmine is extremely passionate about Youth Mental Health and Employment. She is currently launching a podcast for Altruist UK entitled, 'Millennials, Mental Health and Making Money' which will include open and honest discussion regarding the impact of the Youth Mental Health Crisis on employment. Jasmine is currently completing an MSc in Global Ethics and Justice with The University of Birmingham. She has particular interests in how mental ill-health effects social justice, as well as Epistemology, Political Philosophy and Gender Ethics. Jasmine also enjoys writing creatively, practising yoga and cooking as part of her emotional self-care.

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