Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year: the presents, the music, the food, the family. Lots of people love Christmas, but if you’re like me, then it’s a sensory nightmare.
Christmas is my least favourite time of the year, but I’ve come up with some coping strategies that make it bearable and give me a least a little bit of enjoyment, and I want to share them with you!
While spending time with your loved ones during the festive period can be enjoyable, it can also become too much – especially when they want to do activities like playing games together.
To stop me getting overwhelmed, I tend to isolate myself after Christmas lunch (or dinner) and read while they play games or relax talking to each other. This gives me time for me to regroup after socialising so much.
When it’s loud during the festive period, it can get VERY overwhelming and stressful. If you can’t get away – if you’re eating together or opening presents for example – the next best thing is ear defenders.
There are a whole range of ear defenders to choose from – some block out sound entirely and some just mute the sound to a reasonable level. I’m going to recommend two products for you.
Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs
Vibes are amazing, and I don’t know how I ever lived without them. They are discreet earplugs that no one will be able to tell you are wearing, which mute the top and bottom decibels of sound to bring the world to a more acceptable volume.
I use these regularly, and they have seriously changed my life. I am now able to do stuff that I was unable to do, and at Christmas it allows me to socialise with my family and sit through a whole family dinner without getting overwhelmed.
GET YOURS HERE:
Baby Panda Ear Defenders
Sometimes muting the sound of the outside world isn’t enough and you need to block it out entirely, that’s where Baby Panda Ear Defenders come in.
Available in a variety of colours, Baby Panda’s are your traditional style ear defenders and block out a whole bunch of sound to make socialising or background noise manageable.
Food is one of the most significant parts of the festive period – at least it is in my family!
But if you struggle with the sensory aspect of food, then Christmas dinner can be quite a stressful experience. My advice would be: not feel pressured to eat the same foods as everyone else.
Stick to what you know and what you enjoy so you also have an enjoyable meal.
Weighted therapy is a great way to regulate your senses and keep your anxiety under control.
Weighted therapy is essential like a tight hug from a blanket, and this can in turn, calm you down and allow you to stay in stressful situations for longer.
Here are some products I recommend.
Fidget Bum is made from comfy, cosy, stretchy cotton fabric. It has a chunky zip at either end. It is designed to stretch snugly around your bed. Once zipped up, it gives you the feeling of being held or hugged. Fidget Bum is perfect for sensory seekers who crave extra pressure — providing compression at night to help calm and soothe our sensory systems and aid a better nights sleep. Initially designed for those fidgety toddlers, you can get fidget bum in 5 different sizes from toddler beds right up to king-sized!
Budget Weighted Blanket
This weighted blanket that we stock is a cost-effective alternative but with all of the benefits – perfect if you are on a tighter budget. . It gives you everything you need from a weighted blanket. Made with 100% cotton and glass beads it feels lovely. The beads are quiet and spread evenly, with no bunching. This blanket has no cover and so is cool on the skin, but you can add a cover if required. It’s perfect for those who need compression therapy on a budget!
Koala Weighted Blanket
The Koala Weighted Blanket is one of luxury. It is the best-weighted blanket I have ever used (and I have used a lot). The cover is super soft and also cooling, meaning it can be used year-round. This blanket has been made with tremendous attention to detail, and it’s obvious. So if you want the best-weighted blanket then here it is, it might cost a bit more than the other options… But trust me when I say, IT IS WORTH IT!
5. COMMUNICATION AIDS
Sometimes it can be hard to communicate if you are stressed or overwhelmed. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a product that could help you express how you were feeling without being verbal?
Luckily I have the answer for you with a few products that do precisely that. I’ve tested all of these, and they all help me!
The Chewimoji is an innovative product that is essentially a group of faces with different emotions on them, that helps you express how you are feeling without saying it.
They come with eight different emotions to help you express yourself, and what’s even better is that they are chewable and stimmable to help you regulate your senses!
GET YOURS HERE:
The Emotichew is a chewable bangle that doubles up as a fantastic communication aid.
One side of the bangle is green and says “Talk to me” for when you want to have company. If not, just flip it. inside out, and it’ll turn red and say “Leave me be.”
This product is excellent for people who struggle with communication and need straightforward options to tell people how they feel.
GET YOURS HERE:
Sometimes people just need a little bit a comfort item when they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, right?
The Kiki Comforter is precisely that, a blanket that is dual-textured and extra sensory for those who need a little bit of comfort to help them calm down when they are stressed.
But what makes it even better is that it has the emotions expressed on the Chewimoji (mentioned above) printed on one side of the blanket, so you can use it to communicate if you are struggling when you are stressed or overwhelmed.
GET YOURS HERE:
6. USE THE ADVENT SYSTEM
If you are already a Chewigem customer then you’ve probably heard Lorraine talking in the community group about her Advent system. If not, we are about to change your life!
So when Lorraine’s child Jamie was younger, they used to struggle with all of the gifts at Christmas because once they found a present they liked, they would just want to play with that one.
One year, Lorraine came up with a system – giving a little present every day from the 1st of December to the 24th and then a bigger one on the 25th. It was so effective in taking the stress out of opening all the gifts at the same time.
it’s filled with 24 treats – a minimum of 18 chewable items, plus additional surprise sensory gifts AND a limited edition Christmas chew!
7. SPD SUPPORTS
People with SPD will sometimes get overwhelmed at Christmas (as mentioned in all the ways above), but SPD supports can help the person regulate themselves. Chewigem has a range of these supports, and there will be something for everyone.
GET YOURS HERE:
But if you need help finding your perfect sensory support, then you should check out this essential piece of content (it’ll take you five minutes maximum!): Choosing The Right Chew For You.
8. TAKE BREAKS
When feeling like you’re going to have a meltdown or going to get overwhelmed, try to take a break and go to a different room.
This will allow you some quiet time to regulate yourself and regain the energy to go out and spend more time with your family.
There is no reason why you have to spend your whole Christmas day with your family.
9. PLAN AHEAD
The secret to creating an enjoyable experience for people with additional needs during transitions is to plan ahead as much as possible. This will allow them to be prepared for when these changes start happening.
You could do this by showing videos about decorating for Christmas, listening to Christmas music before that time, or even using social stories.
This will help your loved ones with transitions and reduce the chance of stress and getting overwhelmed.
Christmas is a stressful time but we really hope that these strategies will help you enjoy this time of year a little bit more.
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