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Do the upcoming festivities fill you with more dread than excitement? If so, then you’re not alone.

In less than a week, it’ll be Christmas Day, and while some are counting down the sleeps, others aren’t so excited.

According to a recent study by Harvard Medical School, 62% of people experience higher stress levels during this time of year.

And for those with pre-existing mental health conditions, the holidays can become unbearably anxiety-inducing, with 64% claiming that Christmas makes their conditions worse, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness.

Psychologist Wendy Dignan said:

‘If we’ve already got too much on in our day-to-day lives, Christmas can sometimes feel like we have an extra part-time job,’

‘All of that pressure puts us into stress mode, and it makes us more susceptible to a sense of foreboding (a feeling that something bad will happen) because stress means that we are more susceptible to filtering in the negative stuff and filtering out the positive.’

This can lead to feelings of festive fatigue, especially as we head to the end of another long year compounded by the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

This impending sense of Christmas doom will inevitably be heightened for those navigating loss, struggling with their mental health, dealing with loneliness or trying to coordinate Christmas in a blended family.

Top tips for dealing with festive dread:

1. When these feelings arise – acknowledge them, and understand what they are telling you so you can find the reassurance you need.

2. Increase your self-care at this time of year.

3. Decide what is important to you this festive season and establish your boundaries accordingly.

4. Be prepared for situations where you are aware you may be triggered.

5. Prioritise your schedule, so you avoid overwhelm and burnout.

6. Reach out for support, delegate, and, importantly accept help!

7. Give yourself permission to say no.

We know this is an exciting time for most, but please remember to check in with your family and friends to ensure they are well during the festive season.

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