Read below my new article published in Brainz Magazine. 
Let’s talk about the festive season, about the importance of self-care during this time of the year and how to make the best of this very special time of year. 
Personally, I just love this time of year, the buzz in the air, the twinkling of lights wherever we go, the whole lot really. It really is such a magical time of year. But to be honest, I know that it can also be an overwhelming time during which we try to get organized, to have everything perfectly set, a time during which we might overspend and feel under pressure, as well as a time during which we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us. And a time during which we put ourselves last. 
With so much going on and so many demands on our time and attention, and with the festive season being a time of high expectations and even higher emotions it is no surprise that many of us find the festive period to be a tough time. 
It is not unusual for people to feel overwhelmed by the festivities. 
Many things that are part of our routines that we take for granted become disrupted by the change of pace in our lives during this time of year. 
So, whilst Christmas can be a magical time for many, it can also be a really stressful time for many others. 
Worries about money, loneliness, grief, feeling surrounded and more are just some of the emotions that Christmas and the festive season can trigger in many of us. 
And that’s perfectly okay. Just remember that Christmas can be difficult for anyone, at any point in their life. 
You might be struggling this year for the first time. Or you may have found Christmas difficult in the past, and you are dreading it again this year. 
You may also enjoy Christmas, but not be able to celebrate it how you would like. Or you might find some parts enjoyable, but other parts stressful. 
Whether or not Christmas is part of your life, your mental health might be affected by it happening around you. 
It is a time of year that often puts extra pressure on us and can affect our mental health in lots of different ways. 
For example, if you: 
- Feel alone or left out because everyone else seems happy when you are not 
- Wish you did not have to deal with Christmas at all or find it stressful because of other more important events going on in your life. 
- Have to spend Christmas with some of your family members who might trigger strong emotions 
- Feel frustrated by other people’s views of a ‘perfect’ Christmas, if these feel different to your own 
- Sorely missing a loved one who passed away 
Christmas is a great time to ramp up your self-care whilst also raising awareness with our loved ones, family, friends, and colleagues. As much as we want to please our loved ones and keep on top of things, we must all prioritise our mental health, self-care and wellbeing over this festive period. 
Remember that you are good to no one if you are not in the right headspace and it is absolutely ok to prioritise what is best for you, even if others do not seem to understand. 
So now let’s build your self-care toolbox and talk about some tips to help your mental health over this festive period. Your self-care toolbox is a set of predetermined tools you can draw on whenever you feel you are not coping during this time of year. 
Be realistic with your expectations 
The festive season does not have to be perfect or just like previous years. Every year is an opportunity to do something different. Select a few traditions to hold on to, and be open to embracing new ones. Although your festive plans may look different this year, you can find new ways to celebrate. 
Plan ahead 
Prepare and plan how your time is going to be spent. Schedule specific days and times to complete shopping, prepare meals, connect with family and friends, and do other activities. Planning ahead will help ease the pressure and avoid overwhelm. Think also about what might be difficult about Christmas for you, and if there is anything that might help you cope. Think about whether you really need to do things if you are not looking forward to them. Can you do them differently or for less time? 
YOU do not have to do everything. Think strategically and see where other people could (or should) help, delegate. Share the work; share the fun too. 
Stick to a budget and spend wisely 
Make a budget and stick to it. Overspending for the sake of it will only give you another thing to worry about, will increase your stress levels in the long run and make you feel even more overwhelmed and will most probably prevent you from being present and enjoy the moment. 
Be kind with yourself and look after yourself 
It is okay to prioritise what is best for you, even if others do not seem to understand. Think about what you need and how you might be able to get it. Consider talking to someone you trust about what you need to cope. Set a ‘start’ and ‘finish’ time for what you count as Christmas. Remind yourself that it will not last forever. 
Acknowledge your feelings 
If you have recently lost a loved one or are unable to be with loved ones for other reasons, realize that it is perfectly normal to feel sadness and grief. It is ok to take time to cry or express your feelings. You cannot put your feeling on hold and force yourself to be happy just because it is the holiday season. Let yourself experience your own feelings. Even if they do not match what is going on around you, they are still real and valid. You might not be able to make others understand. That is okay. It is not your responsibility to convince other people or get their permission to look after yourself. 
Do not give up on your healthy habits 
Christmas is a time to enjoy ourselves, but it is also a time during which we need to set some limits. Stick with a routine, eat healthy meals, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, include regular exercise and avoid over-indulging on food and alcohol. Do not let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence will only add to your stress and guilt and make you feel more overwhelmed. 
Set your boundaries and learn to say no 
If you can’t avoid something difficult, plan something for yourself afterwards to help reduce the stress or discomfort you might feel. 
Saying yes when you really want to say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Your loved ones will understand if you cannot get involved in every project or activity. Remember that saying yes to someone when you just want to say no, is saying no to yourself and denying your own feelings. 
Slow down and take a break 
Whatever you do during the festive season, make some time for yourself. Find an activity you enjoy. Take a break by yourself. Spending just a few minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do and face your loved ones. Take these few minutes to clear your mind, do some breathing exercises and tap into your inner resources to keep going. 
Get outside 
The shorter daylight hours and lack of sunshine can negatively impact our mood. And over Christmas it is very easy to spend whole days indoors. Exercise and daylight can help ease anxious and stimulate ‘feel good’ endorphins. 
Reach out and get support 
Remember that you are not alone. If you are struggling this festive season, you may want to find support for your mental health and wellbeing. Support is available every day. Remember the old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”; talking things through can definitely help to reduce your anxiety. But if you do not feel you can open up to those around you, there is also the option to reach out to professionals such as counsellors or therapists. Professionals can put things you may be overthinking into perspective and teach you coping strategies to help you through the festive season. 
My last but not least tip is the use of self-hypnosis 
Hypnosis is a safe and natural state of relaxation with an increased level of awareness during which you are not asleep and are fully in control. You will experience a pleasant state of mind with increased attention and focus. The hypnotic state is similar to some moments in your life when you are daydreaming or fully absorbed in a specific activity like reading for example. 
While in a relaxed state of mind, new information can make its way into the subconscious which transforms old beliefs and thought patterns. Hypnosis delves into your subconscious mind to plant positive thoughts and suggestions, which can create meaningful and lasting changes in your thought process. Hypnosis replaces the old with the new. Changing your thinking will change your beliefs, fears, desires, habits, and anything that creates resistance when achieving new things. 
Hypnosis will be used to replace these negative thoughts by more positive ones, boost your sense of worthiness and confidence and help you enjoy the festive season feeling calmer and mor at peace with yourself and others around you. 
you can even practice hypnosis on yourself, using self-hypnosis. 
You have probably done it hundreds of times but just were not aware of it. 
Have you ever found yourself deeply engrossed in a book? Or so caught up in a film that time seemed to pass effortlessly? If so, you may have experienced a form of hypnosis, what many practitioners refer to as the “everyday trance.” That might be an oversimplification, but the truth is that you already know how to hypnotize yourself. 
Self-hypnosis is quite easy to master and all you need is a quiet and safe space where you can relax and will not be disturbed. Self-hypnosis involves becoming highly focused and absorbed in the experience while giving yourself positive suggestions about ways to reach your goals. In those instances, your conscious mind switches off. You stop overthinking and analysing everything and go to an inner and more peaceful place. Self-hypnosis is an individual practice, unlike when you are working with a therapist. It can be a most empowering practice as you learn to have better control of your thoughts and behaviours while enjoying the physical and emotional benefits of the relaxation that is typical of self-hypnosis techniques. 
How to start self-hypnosis 
Find a quiet and safe place where you will not be disturbed and where your full attention is not required. Take a few deep breaths, then just enjoy relaxing and letting go of any daily worries, anxieties, or tensions. Start thinking about what you want to achieve, visualize yourself achieving it and give yourself positive suggestions about ways to reach your goals. For example, visualize yourself acting in a calm and composed way during the Christmas and give yourself suggestions about what you can do to enjoy the meal and the company of the people present. 
As a hypnotherapist I believe I work in a profession which is fantastically placed to help people feel calm, manage their anxious feelings, and align with what they really desire in life, appreciate themselves and see their true potential. 
While for some of us Christmas can be something of an endurance test, the season can also provide a sense of hope and new beginnings. This has certainly been another difficult year, but it has shown us all the importance of supporting and reaching out to others – not to mention being kind to yourself and asking for help when you need it. With the new year around the corner, it’s good to reflect on these things and look towards a more positive 2023. 
I wish you all a very blessed, wonderful, and peaceful festive season. 
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