Top tips for looking after your mental health at Christmas
The festive season can be a time of joy and spending time with loved ones but it can also be a stressful and lonely period.
During this time it is important to try to remember to look after your mental health and wellbeing.
Here are our top tips.
Talk about your feelings
It's hard to admit that at such an exciting time of year you don't actually feel that great. But talking about your feelings can improve your mood and make it easier to deal with the tough times.
It's part of taking charge or 'self managing' your mental wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy. It's important to create space for these conversations and also worth identifying who you can speak to if you are concerned about your wellbeing.
Do something you are good at
What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? Enjoying yourself helps beat stress.
As busy as the holiday season gets, try and keep up the activities and hobbies you enjoy all year round. You could turn these into festive activities, like making gifts, cooking mince pies or playing your musical instruments to Christmas songs!
Ask for help
Donning a Christmas jumper can make us feel pretty special but none of us are superhuman. At times we all get overwhelmed by how we feel, especially when things go wrong.
If things are getting too much for you in the next few weeks and you feel like you can't cope, ask for help. Samaritans are available to speak to all year round - their free helpline number is 116 123 and calls to this number do not appear on phone bills.
Keep in touch
When putting the finishing touches on holiday plans, we can often become distracted from the support systems around us and lose our footing.
Friends and family can make you feel included and cared for. They can offer different views from whatever's going on inside your own head, keep you grounded and help you solve practical problems - enjoy this time to catch up.
If alone and/or away from family, the Campaign to end Loneliness provide some helpful resources.
Accept who you are
Some of us make people laugh, others cook fantastic meals. Some of us share our lifestyle with the people who live close to us, others live very differently.
If you have mental health problems, don't feel under pressure to do more than you feel up to this Christmas.
Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only ever temporary.
It's great to catch up with friends or colleagues in the pub - spending time on good relationships is essential for good mental health - but know your limits. It's important to maintain your personal wellbeing, too.
Christmas is typically a time of overindulgence but what we eat can sometimes impact on how we feel.
For example, too much sugar can have a noticeable effect on your mental health and wellbeing in the short and long term. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a little overindulgence but a good tip is to balance this out over the festive period - everything in moderation.
It's no surprise that cold weather and short days are not the greatest motivation to get you out of bed and on a 5k run! But research shows that doing exercise releases chemicals in your body that can make you feel good.
Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you to concentrate, sleep and feel better. Exercise also keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy. So use that Christmas spirit for physical health as well as mental health - you might even enjoy the crisp air!
Take a break
The holiday season is a perfect time to take some time out of your day-to-day life and gain some perspective to reflect on the year.
Whether spending time away from home or a stay-cation, re-energise by giving yourself a change of scene or pace. It's good for you!
Practicing mindfulness can be a great way to unwind. Find out more on how to learn mindfulness and take a free stress test.
Sleigh bells audio by freeSFX.co.uk.
Care for others
Present-buying is not the only way of showing that we care about others.
Christmas is the perfect time to reach out to loved ones who you haven’t spent much time with in the past year; ask how they’ve been and whether they have plans for the holidays. Caring for others is an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together and make you feel good!
If you yourself are feeling like ending your life, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress.
- If you need someone to talk to then Samaritans are available on 116 123 (UK) for free, 24/7. They are there to talk to, listen and they won't judge or tell you what to do.
- C.A.L.M.: National helpline for men to talk about any troubles they are feeling. Call 0800 58 58 58 (UK). They are available 5pm-midnight 365 days a year.
- For support in a crisis, Text Shout to 85258. If you’re experiencing a personal crisis, are unable to cope and need support. Shout can help with urgent issues such as: Suicidal thoughts, abuse or assault, self-harm, bullying, relationship challenges.