Christmas may be something you look forward to, or it may be a time of year you find a bit tough. What the Christmas period brings will be individual to each of us.
It can be a difficult time for many people suffering depression and anxiety - with social and financial pressures among the factors adding to the stress.
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 loss of a loved one or the Christmas party is making you feel worried, here are some tips and ideas for looking after your mental health.
1. Take a break
Allow yourself to take ‘time out’ if you find your stress levels rising. This could be a walk, going out for a coffee or listening to music - whatever will help you to relax or unwind. Make sure to take a break from the pressures of the festive season by finding time to do something that makes you feel happy such as reading a book, running a hot bath or watching a film. These methods can help to distract from anxious thoughts and can even help you to sleep better; helping you to feel fully rested for Christmas. Importantly such activities also help to slow the body down, giving the mind a break from being over-stimulated which can occur during Christmas.
2. It's okay not to be okay
Remind them it’s ok to feel how they’re feeling. At this time of year, it's even more important that people don’t struggle in silence. It's the time for love, family and friends, gift-giving and heartfelt messages; but sometimes the wall comes up and the fake smile is used for fear of bringing down the festive joy with sadness. No gift could change this feeling, no amount of presents under the tree, no amount of overly elaborate Christmas wrapping could help. To be told that it's ok to feel this way, to have a friend or loved one validate your feelings is a gift.
3. Think before you say
Comparing ourselves with other people can have a big effect on how we feel. it's so important to be mindful with what we say and the words we use around this time of year. This isn't the right moment to bring up the past and avoid drawing attention to others. Commenting on what someone is or isn’t eating is rude, whether they have an eating disorder or not. But at a time full of anxiety, drawing any additional attention to that person is going to make them incredibly uncomfortable.
4. Be there for others
Be there for them. Spend time with them. Invite them round for a hot chocolate a chat or even invite them to place you know they enjoy going. Remind them you are there to talk to and if they need anything you’ll be there. Find out what their limits are and what you can do to help and what they need to feel safe and happy. If you’re not spending Christmas with them, remind them you’re at the end of the phone if they need you.
5. Reach out
If you would like to speak to someone or get support over the Christmas Holidays then you can reach out here. Both of these services are open 24/7, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
Shout is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.
If you’re experiencing a personal crisis, are unable to cope and need support, text Shout to 85258.
Website - https://www.giveusashout.org/
Samaritans Can support you any time of day or night by phone, email, or through face to face visits at a local branch. What you talk about stays between you. It’s not a religious organisation, it’s available to anyone. Tel: 116 123 (this number is free to call) or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - https://www.samaritans.org/
I hope this week is wonderful and magical, and beautiful for you.
Merry Christmas and Happy new year!