As a society, we are constantly bombarded with images of the ‘right’ way to spend Christmas and the entire holiday season – constantly euphoric with our loved ones.
However, it is really not that easy for some people. It can even be the complete opposite.
One in ten people feel unable to cope at this time of year, according to research by the charity Mind.
For those who have been affected by grief, Christmas can be a painful reminder, and this time of year can be incredibly lonely and difficult.
For those suffering with mental health, the holiday season can also be extremely tough.
Christmas can additionally cause anxiety and stress to those who don’t usually suffer, for a number of reasons, but financial stress is the most common – around 41% of people surveyed by Mind in 2015 reported getting into debt – which can trigger or increase anxiety.
We also tend to overindulge and drink more alcohol, which can worsen mental health symptoms, while overexerting ourselves socially – which can leave us tired and anxious.
Look after yourself this Christmas!
Here are some steps for how to do so:
Sticking to routines as much as possible can help prevent Christmas feeling overwhelming. Planning ahead is a great way to save stress, time and money. Making manageable lists for jobs to do, presents to buy and food, helps to organise your thoughts, stops you from forgetting anything, and makes it easier to budget.
Stick to your budget.
Sticking to your budget will ease the financial stress at Christmas, and alleviate financial issues in the New Year. If you have a large circle of friends and family, the list of gifts to buy seems endless, perhaps try a Secret Santa, or set a limit on the price to be spent on each gift. Remember it really is the thought that counts, don’t spend excessive amounts when it isn’t needed.
Lower your expectations.
Let’s face it, Christmas in real life is nothing like you see in the movies or even hear in the Christmas songs! Christmas tends to illuminate any pre-existing stresses. Try and accept this and don’t expect the perfect day. It is after all, a day like any other, except with heaps of pressure. Therefore, arguments may be had, things may go wrong, and that’s fine and absolutely normal! Once this is acknowledged, you should feel less pressure and will hopefully enjoy your day in a realistic manner.
Take some time for yourself.
If you find Christmas a particularly difficult time, try to take time out to do something you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, painting, crafting, phoning a friend, relaxing or doing physical exercise.
It’s key not to feel guilty for doing something unrelated to the festivities – and especially important to remember it’s absolutely okay to say no to an event if you feel you have too much going on – prioritise your mental wellbeing.
If you find spending time with lots of people overwhelming, know that it is okay to take breaks to clear your head and replenish any negative thoughts or emotions.
Everything in moderation.
Of course it’s the season to treat yourself, but overdoing it, especially with alcohol, can have a vast negative impact on your health and wellbeing.
Try to choose fruit and vegetables whenever you can, and limit the amount of alcohol you consume over the festive period.
Look back – and forward.
The end of a year can bring mixed emotions, particularly if you’ve experienced difficult or disappointing times. If this does cause you distress, try to focus on the positive outcomes of the past 12 months, and view the new year as a fresh start and a chance to make the changes you desire.
Volunteering, or a performing a random act of kindness is a known way to improve your mental health, and will lift spirits especially at this time of year.
Look out for one another – especially if you know this time of year is hard for someone around you.
Steps to do so.
Let people know they are not alone.
Be sure to regularly check on someone who may be suffering – phone them to ask if there is anything they need and if they would like any company. They may prefer to be alone, but please do check as they may instead want someone to lean on, or to distract them from any pain.
Recommend films to watch, or books to read.
If you can’t be with a loved one around Christmas, but want to remind them you are there – recommending films or books will help them feel like they are with you whilst watching or reading your choices. Try especially hard to recommend uplifting ones which don’t involve any triggers.
Send a gift.
A small sign of care and love can really help lift somebody up – showing you were thinking of them and they have someone who loves them. Even if it’s just a little card with a kind message inside.
Give the gift of therapy – to yourself or a loved one.
At Dr Julian, we offer therapy packages that you can buy for yourself, or treat a loved one to, as a gift this Christmas. Our therapy is a video-call service which can be taken place in the comfort of one’s home – making the whole process a lot more pleasant and less daunting.
What better way to spend the Christmas period than healing yourself and your mental health?
Therapy will assist you to enter the new year replenished and ready to combat anything that comes your way.
If you know someone suffering, and want to help but don’t know how, this could be the perfect answer.
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