Unhelpful thinking habits at Christmas

Nicola Tatham from Freedom Therapy in Belper (Derbyshire) discusses some unhelpful thinking habits that can increase Christmas stress.

Christmas is coming – that’s a given. For some though, the season to be jolly creates more stress and anxiety than any other time of the year. However, sometimes we can be our own worst enemy and our unhelpful thinking habits can create problems that perhaps don’t really exist.

Before you try and find somewhere Christmas-free to emigrate to, have a think about whether your own thinking habits are exaggerating, or even creating, problems that perhaps don’t need to exist:

  • Mind-reading – do we really know what others are thinking? Receiving a last-minute cancellation from a close friend can trigger all sorts of feelings of rejection for us but could it be that they really have been let down by their babysitter? Of course, it might also be that they are feeling totally stressed out by the whole season too and just need a night in. By putting thoughts into the minds of others we can enter into imaginary conversations and scenarios that won’t actually materialize.
  • Catastrophising – Do you always imagine the worst? Thinking in this way won’t help you to have a jolly Christmas. Stop and think; what’s most likely to happen and how much control do you have over that? Your turkey may not cook in time, your guests might not enjoy every aspect of their meal but then again, they might!  And if they don’t, is that the end of the world?
  • Critical self – are you falling into the trap of blaming yourself for situations that are not your responsibility? Okay, so the family dinner turned into a heated argument but can you be held responsible for that just because you booked the table? Start being a little more lenient on yourself and you may just see things slightly differently.
  • Shoulds and musts – a favourite for many! ‘I should write cards for all my colleagues’, ‘I must make sure that everything is perfect on Christmas day.’ Says who? Where is this pressure coming from? Why do I expect so much of myself? What might be a more realistic target for myself?

These are just a few of the unhelpful thinking habits that can trigger feelings of stress and anxiety. Just being aware of them can help you to consider your perspective on the Christmas festivities. The way you think and the way you feel are closely related. Sometimes you need to challenge yourself and your thinking and Christmas is often a time when doing so can have a big impact.

If Christmas is becoming more than you think you can handle do get in touch if you feel we can be of benefit to you. Mind also offer some useful links to charities that can help over the festive period.

Freedom Therapy is based in Belper, Derbyshire and offers one to one counselling and psychotherapy. Belper is easy to reach with direct regular train access from Duffield, Derby and Matlock. Our therapy room is on the A6 so is easily commutable from Ashbourne, Darley Abbey, Allestree and beyond for those looking for psychotherapy. Do get in touch if you feel we can be of benefit to you.