It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The festive season is in full swing and houses look like grottos, chocolate and mince pies are in demand, Christmas songs are heard everywhere you go and the long queues to see the big man with his round belly, that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly have begun. And on that note, it’s the time of the year that most of us decide that losing weight and being healthy is on hold until we make our new year resolutions!
The festive season is described as the most wonderful time of the year, a time for joy and laughter and an exciting time for those who believe. It’s a time to be spent with family and friends and the season for giving. But please be mindful, Christmas is not always the most wonderful time of the year for everyone. Whether you live with a mental health problem or not, Christmas can be a stressful time of the year.
There is more pressure to socialise with friends and family, there is also financial strain of buying gifts and attending events. Alcohol consumption can increase along with feelings of fatigue as the number of hours you sleep each night decrease. And just the preparation to ensure you have the perfect day can be stressful and cause anxiety. Christmas is also a time where people can feel lonely and isolated, feel grief from missing the ones we love and ultimately our mental health can suffer.
So, as your mental health doesn’t take time off over the holidays, it’s so important to care of yourself. With that in mind, here are some tips that be useful over the festive period;
- Get your favourite dessert; There is so much pressure when cooking on Christmas Day. Focus on a treat for dessert and if all goes wrong, for example you forget to turn the oven on…laugh about it over a yummy pudding!
- Play Games; Make time to have some fun with those you spend Christmas with by playing your favourite games.
- Watch a Movie; Whether it’s a Christmas classic or another favourite, relax and enjoy.
- Go for a Walk; Get outside in the fresh air and go for a Christmas Day walk. Whether it is with others or some much needed time for yourself, it can do wonders for a positive attitude.
- Plan gift buying; Why not put a twist on buying gifts and all agree on a low cost to see what you can get. You may be surprised at how this can make gifts much more thoughtful and of course fun!
- Social Media Ban: Social Media is wonderful in so many ways… for example, I share my blog with you guys on social media and it’s a great way to share my messages with so many people all at once! However, it can have a habit of causing people to compare and feel bad about themselves. Try a social media ban over the festive period… see how long you can make it and you may be surprised at how you feel.
- Mindfulness: Practice being present in the moment, to your thoughts, feelings and the world around you. This is known to improve your mental wellbeing if practiced regularly.
- Memories; Remember, money, presents and striving for the perfect day isn’t everything. Often, it’s the small things that count, it’s what money can’t buy that sometimes make the most wonderful memories. Children won’t remember each toy you bought them but they will remember your family traditions, love and laughter.
- Plan your day; If you are spending Christmas alone plan ahead. Think about what you would enjoy; a book, a movie, baking, a puzzle, a takeaway or volunteering in the local community is a great way to meet new people.
And most important of all;
Let’s Talk Mental Health; Its ok to not be ok. Life is challenging and Christmas can be a difficult time for many. Remembering you are not alone is so important and talking about how you feel is a must. This can be in whatever way you chose; talk to family, friends, call a helpline, online communities and local services are all there to listen and support you through the tough times.
Mind, a Mental Health Charity are spreading awareness of the difficulties some people experience over the Christmas period and how this can be even more difficult to cope for those of us with mental health problems. They have useful information and tips for coping, other people’s stories and places to turn to for support.
Their message is;
“Remember, take one minute, hour or day at a time. Things may feel easier in January”
Whatever you do for Christmas this year, have a wonderful time and try not to sweat the small stuff. Have a day filled with love and laughter and remember those who may be struggling over the festive period. Let’s share the true meaning of Christmas and be there for each other.