Christmas is a wonderful time of year but not for all of us. A quarter of UK adults will have poor mental health over Christmas and 18% of people report they ‘dread’ it. It’s OK not to be OK this Christmas, you’re not alone. Here are a few tips to help you get through it.
- Its OK to prioritise yourself
Social situations can be overwhelming, mandatory family gatherings especially so. It’s OK to make time for yourself. If you need a break from the children ask your partner or a friend to watch them for a while so you can get outside for a head clearing walk, call a friend for a chat or meet up for a coffee. It’s OK to turn down invitations or to leave when you need to. Try telling them you would love to but you’re not feeling great or you’re tired. Offer to arrange something for after Christmas and New Year when the pressure is off a bit if you want to.
- Be careful of social media and advertising
Social media can be a cesspit at the best of times but during Christmas it can be especially tough. We all have a family member or friend who posts pics of the mountains of presents they have bought their children or their perfectly festive home. This makes us feel inadequate if our life is not quite ‘insta ready’. There is a causal link between social media use and poor wellbeing, especially higher levels of depression and loneliness. If you can’t avoid social media altogether try and limit your use to 30 minutes a day as a study found this can help reduce the negative effects.
Christmas can be expensive and we all feel under pressure to overspend. Over a third of people will put Christmas on a credit card and 46% are worried about the cost of Christmas. Television advertising is very good at making us think we are missing out and can lead to spending more than you can really afford. The constant barrage of Christmas advertising can also make us feel bad because we don’t have a large family/happy family/ lots of presents etc. and can lead to a cycle of unhelpful comparisons. Try to limit exposure to TV advertising in the run up to and during Christmas and New Year. Opt for channels without ads or mute the TV during the ad breaks, use a streaming service if you already have one.
- All things in moderation
Tis the season to be merry but overindulgence is a gift from the Grinch. Just as it can be helpful to limit our exposure to social media, advertising and even some family members over Christmas, it is also helpful to look out for food and drink. Christmas can be a really difficult time especially if you are spending it alone, with family you have issues with or after a bereavement and it can be tempting to take the edge off with alcohol or comfort ourselves with food. This makes us feel worse in the long run as alcohol is a depressant and too much food can make us feel bloated and bad about ourselves when we’re having a tough time anyway.
- Alone for Christmas
If you are going to be alone for Christmas you can help limit feelings of isolation by planning ahead. Fill the day with things you like to do. Really indulge in your hobbies or go for a long walk when you can have some of the best spots to yourself. Cosy up on the sofa with a good book or your favourite film. Arrange to do some volunteering over Christmas and New Year. It is a good way to meet people and research has shown that volunteering causes improved mental health. The Simon Community are looking for volunteers and you find other opportunities here.
- Tell people how you feel
When you’re feeling down sometimes the last thing you want to do is talk to someone but it really does help. Talking through how you feel can help you feel less anxious about it and can also help your friends and family to be more supportive. If you can’t talk to a friend or family member you can talk to people online in Mind’s supportive forum, Elefriends or call Samaritans.
- Remember January is coming and it will be over soon
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