8 ways to get through Christmas without having a mental breakdown

Well, its mid-December and the silly season is well and truly upon us! With only 10 days till Christmas no doubt we’re all starting to feel burnt out from excessive drinking, work parties, Christmas parties, dinners, last minute catch ups, last minute weekends away and of course the rush for present shopping!

Every year was always hectic back in Australia. I remember having at least 2-3 breakdowns in the lead up to Christmas. However, living in London has taken that and FREAKING TURBO CHARGED THE HELL OUT OF IT. This city does NOT do things by halves! Unfortunately for me, I get amnesia every year on how bad it can get. I get a little over excited for all the excitement and undoubtably overcommit myself. I normally say yes to everything, but being in a new city you feel like you HAVE to say yes to everything, even if it breaks you.

And unfortunately, it did. Last week I started coming down with a bug that I couldn’t shake but I kept pushing through. We then had a weekend away in Copenhagen to see the Christmas markets, but by Saturday night I had completely lost my appetite and collapsed with a fever at our AirBnB. I was in bed off work for almost a week. While I’m sure I caught quite a bad virus, I can’t help but wonder if it was also my body’s way of telling me to slooooow the eff down. On top of that, laying in bed the last few days has had me swinging wildly from feeling down and getting FOMO, to completely anxious and utterly homesick.

Which has got me thinking, yes this time of year is stressful, but I’m also making it a million times more stressful in my head than it needs to be. So I’m jotting down a few reminders for myself for the rest of this holiday period and hopefully for many more Christmas’s to come.

  • Any gift buying will be done prior to December. Set a reminder in your phone for the 1st November 2017 and have everything done by the 30th. And avoid Oxford street like the plague (unless it’s to take pictures of the pretty Christmas lights which of course counter act any stress right? Fairy lights make everything better).
  • Running on 5-6 hours sleep every night when you usually run on 8-9 is a guaranteed, proven recipe for a mental breakdown of Brittany 2007 proportions. Do NOT skimp on your sanity sleep!
  • Embrace the word ‘NO!’ like a toddler, then throw that shit around like confetti in all directions. In fact, buy yourself a liberating present and get custom made confetti saying ‘NO’ to throw at people who piss you off……..except your boss. Don’t throw negative confetti at your boss.
  • If there is one month to cut caffeine out this would be it. On top of all that stress coming into Christmas, the last thing you need is to turbo charge your adrenals and encourage your inner psycho. The only exceptions I’ll allow are gingerbread spiced lattes and espresso martinis.
  • It is NOT the end of the world if you can’t find the perfect $10 secret santa present – for someone at work you hardly know and have barely ever had a conversation with, do NOT agonise for hours if they’ll like the truffle-infused olive oil or gourmet sea salt rub. I’m sure he’ll be fine with a little deck of cards or a scratchy.
  • Don’t get hung up on the food or portion sizes. Unfortunately working in media means daily and weekly gourmet binges that almost guarantees gout. This causes ENORMOUS social anxiety and stress and that’s the last thing you need. Stop over analyzing the food, just freaking eat the deliciousness in front of you, stop when you’re full and don’t guilt eat. The starving children in Africa won’t hold it against you.
  • Book yourself out as ‘away’ for a day or a weekend in December – blame work, family, conferences, illness, whatever you can to remove yourself from the mayhem. And treat that little princess inside of you who has been too busy giving to everyone else you forgot yourself. Get a massage, watch a movie, get your hair or nails done, consume a bottle of wine while dancing half naked in the bedroom, or just turn your phone off, binge on Netflix and eat a tub of ice cream guilt free.
  • When all else fails and a mental breakdown is imminent – find a stupid thing that will make you laugh and distract you. My saving grace is pictures and videos of french bulldogs. Or it could be a half hour compilation of cat videos. Just something to break the vicious mental cycle so then you can either focus on breathing, or call a girlfriend to rant and unleash if you’re really having a bad day.

Finally, just remember that everything is temporary. The stress is temporary, the circumstances are temporary, this year only exists temporarily. We’re so close to a fresh start (and a major juice cleanse and diet overhaul!) so hold onto your sanity kids, we’ve almost made it!