For many, Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, filled with festivities, food, parties and time spent with loved ones. However, Christmas can be an especially tough time of the year for those with mental health issues. Some people find the disruption to routines destabilising and the additional pressure to be happy and sociable can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
As we near the end of a unique and unprecedented year, the traditional expectations of Christmas have been replaced with even more uncertainty, anxiety and confusion for most of us.
Here are some suggestions for looking after your mental health during the festive period.
Make Time for Family and Friends
Good relationships are essential for positive mental health, and it is important to feel connected and part of something. The party season might look very different this year, but we can still keep connected with loved ones to prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Look After Yourself
Balance your sense of social obligations against your need for self-care. Prioritise your wellbeing and think about how you want to spend the break.
You may just want to use this period as a time of rest and calm where nothing needs to happen just because it’s Christmas.
Regular exercise has a positive effect on mental health by helping to lift mood, reduce stress and anxiety and increase energy. As the winter days get darker and colder, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get out and about and moving but simple things like going for a walk can make all the difference.
Eat Well and Limit Alcohol
A balanced, nutritious diet is just as important for mental health as it is for physical health.
Christmas is a time of over-indulgence but be aware that rich and sugary foods and alcohol, which initially provide a short-term energy boost, can lead to a slump in energy levels and over time can contribute to the development of mental health problems.
Get Enough Rest
A good night’s sleep can have a significant effect on energy levels and positivity. Try to cut out alcohol, caffeine and screen time late in the evenings. A hot bubble bath and a good book can help to wind down before bedtime.
Focus on the Positives
During difficult times it is easy to dwell on the negative things that are happening in our lives and this is often exacerbated during the Christmas period.
Focusing on unhelpful, negative thoughts can drain energy. Try and control your thoughts, practise positive thinking and concentrate on the good things in your life.