How does Christmas affect our mental health? Read on to find out more and gain tips on how to cope with stress over the Christmas period with some suggestions for supporting others.
This is a time of year which often puts extra pressure on us. Christmas can affect our mental health in lots of different ways, whether or not we choose to participate in the festivities.
For example, you may
- Feel worried about the financial pressure of buying gifts/travelling/affording Christmas
- Miss people who are no longer in your life and feel lonely
- Wish you could make it perfect and worry about what might go wrong
- Feel overwhelmed by all the things on your to do list…parties, school events, work events, family get togethers etc.
- Not feel like celebrating this year but don’t know how to explain this to others
- Feel worried about over-eating, or drinking alcohol if you have recently stopped drinking
“I can feel the pressure start to rise in December when there are so many expectations from family and friends. I just don’t know how I’m going to do it all.”
Christmas can affect our mental health is other ways too. Experiences during the Coronavirus restrictions might affect how you feel about being around people. Usual routines can be disrupted. New Year can also be a hard time. We might be reflecting on our lives and thinking about all those things we haven’t achieved.
What can I do to maintain good mental health at Christmas?
Here are a few tips for getting through the festive period and looking after your wellbeing.
- Delegate! Ask others to help out. Don’t feel you have to do everything yourself. Often people like to feel included and enjoy having a purpose. If you have visitors, why not give them a job to do? Washing up, handing out the presents, feeding the pets – little jobs can really make a difference when they are shared out.
- Take a break – five minutes peace can really help. Nipping out of the house for a walk around the block, going into the garden for a cup of tea, having a warm bath or enjoying a phone call to a friend who understands. Don’t feel guilty about having some time away if you feel you need to take a break because we all need refreshing on occasions.
- Say no. If you don’t feel able to travel to see relatives or can’t afford to go to a Christmas do – it’s fine to say a polite ‘no’. Don’t over stretch yourself or your finances.
- Prioritise your wellbeing. If you need to take your medication, exercise, rest or simply stick to certain routines – it’s OK to make this your priority. Sometimes we can feel that Christmas takes over and normality goes out of the window, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you know you need to do certain things to stay well, why not think about a plan to make sure this happens. There is nothing wrong with setting healthy boundaries for yourself at Christmas.
- Take some time to reflect. What are you proud of this year? What has gone well? How can you do more of what you love doing next year? Who can help? Journalling and writing things down can be a helpful way of reflecting and focussing thoughts. Could this be incorporated into a bedtime routine as part of winding down at the end of each day?
If you feel worried about how you are coping and would like to talk to someone, there are many organisations you can reach out to for help. Mind charity has local support services which you can find here, Find local Minds – Mind.
Please feel free to share with someone and comment below with your thoughts. Wishing you a joyful and peaceful Christmas time, Abi.