There’s an unnamed sadness that lurks in the shadows as Christmas spectacularly rolls into town. Behind the dazzling lights, the magic and excitement something else creeps in… for those of us that can’t wait to decorate the tree, write our Christmas cards, sing carols, socialise and find joy in all that is festive we never really see it. Yet it can be a heavy burden for those we know who find Christmas difficult, it latches on and can mean December and the dark winter nights are filled with anxiety, panic and sadness.
If you are dreading Christmas and would rather hibernate until January, then it could be the result of your Christmas phobia (it’s not so short technical name is Chrisougenniatikophobia).
The Cambridge dictionary describes a phobia as
“an extreme fear or dislike of a particular thing or situation, especially one that cannot be reasonably explained.”
So how did you develop this phobia?
There are many who would describe a Christmas phobia as stemming back to an unpleasant event or trauma from childhood that is associated with Christmas. This could be your parents separating, feeling excluded or even the annual family arguments during the festive period. This may resonate with some of you but in my experience as a therapist, there are many who develop this phobia in adulthood.
Take a moment…
Think about the last time you really enjoyed Christmas without that unnamed sadness weighing you down. What’s different between then and now, have you lost something, do you carry a pain you didn’t before? It can be easy to project what is really fuelling our phobia on to consumerism, overspending and indulgence… but let’s be honest even Scrooge and The Grinch had a reason behind their bah humbug philosophy.
If you are tired of wondering how you are going to survive Christmas, then maybe it’s time to start thinking about finding a little inner peace with the season. This isn’t about present buying, cooking mince pies or volunteering to lead the local choir at the carol concert. It’s about learning to feel happy again at this time of year, letting go of whatever the fear and emotions are that your mind has associated with Christmas. Some of these may be:
A trauma that coincided with the festive period.
Challenging family relationships making you dread visiting the in-laws.
Suffering from a social anxiety and avoiding the office party or shopping.
Death of a loved one either in December or having to spend the festive period without a loved one.
Dealing with a relationship break-up at this time of year, spending Christmas without them or associating Christmas as the catalyst for a loved one ending a relationship in January.
Perhaps we should even consider that the sadness and dread you feel each festive period, is not a fear but a part of a grieving process you haven’t yet completed. Think of your feelings and sadness like the ghosts of past, present and future from a Christmas Carol. Understand your past has shaped who you are but release the fears and pains associated with it. Do not hide away from your own emotions and allow yourself to truly live in the present and be mindful for the future but remember that it is in the now that we forge the life we come to live.
If you’re at odds with this festive season and that oppressive dread and anxiety is weighing you down, why not make a choice to change? As a therapist I have worked with numerous clients to help them find a little magic again in Christmas but more importantly they find joy and happiness in life and the anxiety and sadness that seems heightened in December doesn’t follow them into the New Year. Sometimes surviving Christmas is facing those emotions, fears and pains that we have buried deep inside of us and finally letting them go.
Written by Nicole McKendry
#phobia #christmasphobia #depression #sadness #scrooge #hatechristmas #survivingchristmas
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