A growing number of Australians are suffering festive anxiety in the lead up to Christmas as their brain goes into survival mode triggered by a time poor and stressed lifestyle.
Leading Brain Behaviour Specialist Terri Bowman warns anxiety always increases during the festive season but predicts record levels this Christmas.
Why is Christmas So Stressful?
“People’s brains are so cluttered with information and switched on by technology they struggle to cope having to plan and think about the festive event,” said Ms Bowman.
“Social gatherings, gift giving and family relationships can trigger anxiety as fears. They think the present isn’t good enough or concerns about family relationship breakdowns turn into reality when people react to those insecurities.
They spend way too much on a present or avoid family communication,” she said.
“For example someone might be worried about losing their job even though it might not be happening at all, but this fear can take on a life of its own making the person lazy at work because they feel they’re going to be let go soon anyway, which could be a reality now as they’ve changed their work ethic.”
“Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia, affecting one in four people – that’s two million Australians experiencing anxiety every year.”
“A person’s fear tricks their brain into thinking their concerns are reality when it is not, but could become that, simply because of their thoughts.”
“Christmas presents a deadline most people are not used to – having the tree up on December one, longer work hours to get the job done, or buying all the presents in crowded shopping centres which can all spark anxiety…hence festive anxiety.”
“Social events are also a big trigger for anxiety as some people may feel awkward in normal circumstances but with so many parties around the same time it can be overwhelming.”
“When there is this negative pattern of perception people will resent Christmas and it becomes an anxious time for them and every year after, as it will trigger a memory.”
Ms Bowman has this advice for keeping the brain out of survival mode and enjoying Christmas –
Coping With Christmas – Social Functions:
The brain becomes anxious when it feels stressed, vulnerable and insecure. A good idea is for the host to set up a Facebook group allowing people to connect prior to the event to provide some familiarity.
Say yes to events you really want to go to and don’t feel pressured to go to one’s you don’t want to go to.
Deal With Deadlines:
Get organised. Write lists. When buying gifts pick the hardest people to buy for first. Prioritise social commitments with people you enjoy the most as they will lift your spirits and help maintain a festive mood.
It’s a time to feel love and supported. Anxiety will only raise its ugly head when you feel unsafe so connect with positive people who make you feel loved.
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About Terri Bowman
Terri Bowman has spent a decade as a brain behaviour specialist, treating patients for depression, relationship breakdowns, anxiety, post traumatic stress and executives who want to further their success through the Unstoppable You program. Terri has also recently opened the world’s first Brain Wellness Day Spa at http://brainwellnessspa.com.au