Christmas can be a time for celebration but for many people it can be a time of stress, anxiety, disappointment or loneliness, especially for those going through difficult time. My family loves Christmas but I often enter the festive season with a little trepidation…
Christmas is a different experience for us all and can bring different routines and new anxiety. For some it comes with high expectations of perfect, happy families enjoying wonderful celebrations and gifts, but not all of us are able to live up to these ideals, and often many people are disappointed as these are hard expectations to live up too.
Whatever this festive period means to you, it’s important that everyone feels able to manage their mental health throughout the holidays. Whether you’re unsure how to cope with the family descending on you, the loss of a loved one or the Christmas gathering is making you feel anxious, here are some ideas for looking after your mental health and keep you happy.
My Top Tips…
Plan ahead. Master the ‘to do list’. I am a planner and I love a list as this helps me to empty my mind of all the stuff that is filling me with anxiety and worry: Shopping, things to do by certain dates and of course your ‘social’ at a distance calendar. Keep it in one place so that everyone can see it. And of course crossing those things off your list is very satisfying.
Be Realistic. Keep your expectations realistic, this can include setting a budget, working out where the stress trigger points for you might be, and remind children of all ages that Christmas is about being together and not just about the expensive gift – manage their expectations too.
It’s OK to say no. You’re not being selfish by saying “no” to some things or asking for some help. As well as talking to your family about what they want to happen at Christmas be honest about what you want to do too. If you want to turn something down, explain why you don’t want to do it, and have a suggestion ready for an alternative. And delegate so that you can have some time to enjoy Christmas too.
Make time for you! It is that selfcare word again, take time for you and have a look at this blog for some advice. I suggest go for a walk, ring a friend, find a quiet space to relax, put your headphones on and close your eyes. Remember If you are broken then you won’t be much use to those around you.
Avoid comparisons, Don’t look at what other people are doing, everyone’s idea of a perfect Christmas is different. Also try and avoid being sucked in by social media and the perfectly shaped world that it portraits – Try not to be influenced by others peoples vision- It is your Christmas- your way!
Avoid overindulging ‘ Tis the season for indulgence, and whether it be at a festive party or a family dinner, we are surrounded by extravagant foods and alcoholic drinks. Its true that too much of a good thing can be bad for you.
Excessive stress raises appetite and cravings for sugary and fatty foods, and chronic drinking can further exacerbate stress by raising levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Keep active and get outside: As I have said before in my blog on winter blues It is a fact that our mood is lifted by getting more sunshine and natural light. Try and spend some time outside every day. It can be hard to motivate yourself to get out but by exposing yourself to natural light you will naturally boost your Serotonin levels which will have a big effect on your mood. This one is obvious as exercise causes the release of feel-good endorphins in the brain. Go for a walk with your family or even on your own.
Get enough sleep. Sleep can have a huge effect on how you feel both emotionally and physically. Not getting enough can even cause major health issues. But stress and other distractions can wreak havoc on our sleep, so take care of your sleep environment too.
Finally if it all gets too much talk to someone.
Christmas can be a very difficult time for some people and its always worth being mindful of this. If it all becomes too much for you please talk to someone about how you feel. That could be a friend, a colleague or a member of the family or your GP. Just reach out and talk.
Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123
Enjoy, take care of you and let the festivities begin…