How to Cope With Christmas

21/12/2015 11:02 GMT | Updated 19/12/2016 10:12 GMT

How do you remember Christmas? Is it pretty multi-coloured lights? Wham on the Radio? Snow?

When I think back to Christmases of my childhood I have happy memories of my sister diving into the Christmas tree (you've been framed style) and us both waking up in cute, pastel coloured, soft pyjamas to see if Santa had paid us a visit.

Memories made at Christmas in my twenties haven't been so joyous. In fact they've been quite the opposite.

And before you say it, I am not a Grinch. I can get pretty damn scared of Christmas and I am not alone. There are lots of different people that struggle at this time of year.

A few weeks ago I was sent an email from Mind , the mental health charity, stating that:

" 20,000 families will have an empty chair at their Christmas table because a loved one has been admitted to hospital with a mental health problem".

I am sure you will agree this is not an insignificant number. And just because someone isn't in hospital they may still be experiencing mental health issues.

Christmas can stir up a lot of bad emotions and worries.

If alcohol is a problem for you, you will need to be prepared to resist having bucks fizz shoved down your throat on Christmas morning and champagne on New Year's Eve. Just because.

The pain of bereavement can be particularly hard to bear at this time of year. It is meant to all be about friends and family getting together. It is tough if there is someone you love missing.

Social situations can cause a lot of anxiety, Christmas parties and awkward extended family gatherings can breed stress.

Food is what I struggle with at Christmas. Because of issues with my body image, I find that the threat of eating meal, after meal, after meal, makes me anxious about weight gain and body confidence on and off throughout December.

However I am a hell of a lot better than I used to be. Once I actually tried running away from my fear because I found it just too unbearable.

Selfish, you might say. But it was the only option I could come up with. I wasn't classed as being sick enough to be admitted to hospital - but I would have jumped at the chance.

Admittedly since having my daughter last October I feel a lot warmer towards the festivities. A Michael Buble CD has also helped somewhat.

But when Christmas Day is done and dusted and Downton Abbey has finished I still eagerly anticipate a return to eating normally i.e. not just for the sake of it.

For those that love Christmas, or simply enjoy it, a fear of it can be hard to comprehend. However they need to appreciate just how helpful a listening, understanding person can be.

And if you, like me, are frightened of the dinner (or the parties, or the drink, or the sadness) make sure you find someone to talk to. Whether it be your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, best mate, sister or even your trusted GP or counsellor.

This Christmas forget about the presents just try your hardest to make it bit nicer either for yourself or someone you love.

Image: Sam Emmens