3 mind tricks to stop worry ruining your Christmas
The festive season with its cohort of demands, constraints, wishes, and traditions can spark overwhelm when you’re a worrier at the best of times anyway.
When you feel unable to cope, you begin to feel anxious as your mind thinks something along the lines of: something is going to happen here and I just don’t think I can handle it. I’m not good enough.
When this happens, you move further away from the peaceful time that this time of year can embody to a budding state of anxiety.
How does anxiety show itself?
Worry can manifest physically, with tension appearing in various areas of your body, typically in your neck, shoulders, and back. There’s a lot of wisdom in the expression: I feel like I’m carrying the world on my shoulders.
It can manifest in a tight chest, you feel constricted and no longer ‘come up for air’. When this goes on for some time, you no longer notice the tension and tightness you’re holding in your body, it starts to be your ‘new’ normal. And so the soft, comfortable, soothing feeling that physical relaxation brings becomes a distant memory.
Anxiety is also present in your mind, as your thoughts collide, run away with themselves, and come up with catastrophic scenarios that feel so real that they leave you drained and helpless. This in turn increases the tension in your body and it can even disrupt your sleeping pattern. You sleep less, wake up in the middle of the night with worrying, catastrophising thoughts, and so, of course, you feel more tired during the day.
A vicious cycle begins.
Three mind tricks to help stop worry
Here are three mind tricks that you can try out to stop worry and budding anxiety from stealing your Christmas:
1. Let go of the 'shoulds' and the 'musts' when you talk to or about yourself
These manifest the constant demands you make on yourself: you shouldbe like this or do this. You must achieve this by that date. If not, you’re ‘not good enough’, you’ve ‘failed’, you’re ‘useless’.
A life punctuated with shoulds andmusts frustrates and leaves you depleted as you will never have done enough, you’re never good enough, and you’re never perfect enough
Take these Christmas examples:
- Imust get all of this done by the end of today so that when everyone arrives the house will look perfect.
- Ishould take the kids to see the Christmas lights, they’ve got to see the magic!
- I must get all the presents done by this date.
These are non-negotiable demands on yourself, your time, and your energy. There is no room for anything else. I must do it!
Can you feel the tension? Use Christmas as a time to stop doing number one and start doing number two below!
2. Replace 'should' and 'must' with the more flexible 'could'
This gives you mental wiggle room to replenish your energy and feel no guilt about not having achieved the impossible.
Take these Christmas examples:
- I could get everything done by this evening, but that would probably mean tiring myself out unnecessarily and being grumpy when people do arrive. Everyone will lend a hand to get the rest done when they arrive.
- I’ll do my best to take the kids to see the lights but if we don’t go today they will be there for a few weeks.
- I’ll try and get the presents done but hey it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. The most important thing is for everyone to be together.
There is no absolute deadline, just the one that you've put on yourself.
Choose to be reasonable, kind, and realistic with yourself, your energy, and your time! Your mind and your body can relax and find more freedom. Isn’t this a great Christmas gift to offer yourself?
3. Recognise when you are catastrophising
When you recognise that you’re catastrophising, imagining the worst-case scenario of what could go wrong and playing out the film in your mind, and you start to believe how useless you are... Stop right there and take a reality check. Ask yourself: even if this feels like it’s true, how factually correct is it? What is your tangible proof that this is going to happen? In other words, you can talk yourself down from your catastrophic heights.
Give these three mind tricks a go. You’ll probably see that you gain a little distance from the frenzy of your mind and that Christmas can be a pleasant affair, honest!
How can cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy help if you want to go further?
If you notice that worry is becoming a permanent feature in your life and it’s stopping you from living life the way you want, then maybe it’s time to have a few sessions with a cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist to give you some insights and put in place effective long-term coping strategies.
Hypnotherapy lets you explore how your mind can be much more creative and strategically useful to you.
Within the safety of a hypnotherapy session, you can test behaving differently, you can practice feeling differently, and can put in place empowering coping statements that challenge, diminish, or stop any negative thoughts, worry or feelings of anxiety from overwhelming you.
Hypnosis in a nutshell lets you practice scenarios in your imagination so that you are ready to use these strategies in ‘real’ life with confidence. It is the best mind trick available to you!
Cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy is an effective holistic approach that blends the insights evidence-based practical cognitive behavioural tools give you with the very personal and intuitive insights you gain from accessing the dreamy, imaginative side of your mind.