I’ve always always always loved Christmas… It can be an exciting time for many of us, but it can also be overwhelming and encourage behavior that might not be best for our mental health.
For this reason I’ve listed 10 ways we can all protect our mental health during the Christmas season.
1. Talk about your feelings
It’s hard to admit that at such an exciting time of year, you don’t actually feel that great. But talking about your feelings can improve your mood and make it easier to deal with the tough times. It’s important to create space for these conversations and also worth identifying who you can speak to if you are concerned about your well-being.
2. Eat well
Christmas is typically a time of over indulgence, but what we eat can sometimes impact on how we feel. For example, too much sugar can have a noticeable effect on your mental health and well-being in the short and long term. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a little bit of over indulgence, but a good tip is to balance this out over the festive period.
3. Keep in touch and reach out
When putting the finishing touches on holiday plans, we can often become distracted from the support systems around us. Friends and family can make you feel included and cared for. They can offer different views from whatever’s going on inside your own head and help you solve practical problems. If you’re alone and/or away from family, the Campaign to End Loneliness provides some helpful resources.
4. Take a break
The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to take some time out of your day to day life, and gain some perspective to reflect on the year. Take the time to re-energise by giving yourself a change of scene or pace. Practicing mindfulness can help you unwind, for more information click here.
5. Accept Who You Are
Some of us make people laugh, others cook fantastic meals. Some of us share our lifestyle with the people who live close to us, others live very differently. If you have mental health problems, don’t feel pressured to do more than you feel up to.
6. Keep Active
It’s no surprise that cold weather and short days are not the greatest motivation to get you out of bed and on a 5k run! But research shows that doing exercise releases chemicals in your body that can make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you to concentrate; sleep and feel better. Exercise also keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy.
7. Drink Sensibly
Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only ever temporary. Christmas parties encourage socialising and it’s very easy to get carried away, but know your limits – it’s important to maintain your personal well-being too.
8. Ask for Help
Donning a Christmas jumper can make us feel pretty special, but none of us are super-human. At times we all get overwhelmed by how we feel, especially when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you in the next couple of months and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. The Samaritans are available for free on 116 123.
9. Do Something You’re Good At
Enjoying yourself helps to beat stress. As busy as the holiday season gets, try and keep up the activities and the hobbies you enjoy all year round. You could turn these into festive activities, like making gifts, or socialising with friends, before spending time with family over the Christmas and New Year period.
10. Care for Others
Buying presents is not the only way of showing that we care about others. Christmas is the perfect time to reach out to loved ones who you haven’t spent much time with in the past year; ask how they’ve been and whether they have plans for the holidays. Caring for others is an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you.
Merry Christmas everybody. I hope it’s everything you want