Christmas can be a time for eating, drinking, spending time with family and friends, and generally getting into the holiday spirit. The Christmas season, however, can be especially tough for those who have a mental health issue.
There can be a lot of triggers for mental health difficulties throughout this season, whether it’s the financial hardship that comes with gift-giving, the cold and dark winter evenings, or the reality of spending Christmas alone.
First and foremost, it’s critical to recognise that you’re not alone if you’re having trouble over the holidays. More people than you might believe are affected by mental health difficulties around the holidays. A quarter of individuals feel Christmas makes their mental health worse, according to a YouGov poll, while the Mental Health Foundation found that 54% of people are concerned about the mental health of someone they know.
If you or someone you know is concerned about their mental health this Christmas, this article can help you recognise the symptoms early and take necessary actions to manage your mental health, allowing you to enjoy the festive season to the fullest.
Coping with Loneliness at Christmas
Many of the social pressures of Christmas, which are fuelled by social media and the expectation that we must have a fantastic time, can lead to feelings of emptiness or loneliness. We don’t even have to be alone to experience these emotions.
Loneliness and the mental health difficulties discussed in this article are inextricably intertwined. If you don’t take steps to address your loneliness, it could be an indication of a mental health condition, or it could turn into a more serious problem.
There are self-care strategies for loneliness you can put in place to cope with how you’re feeling. Here are a few ideas:
- Make a gratitude list every day: Every day, make a list of five items in your life for which you are grateful or joyful. Focusing on the positives can assist to improve your spirits and start you on the path to a more optimistic mindset in the long run.
- Volunteer: Despite popular belief, there is plenty to do in your local community during the holidays that does not require you to be a member of a large family. Volunteering in the community is one of the most effective methods to meet new people and build confidence. Please make sure that you keep yourself safe from Covid-19 if this is something that you wish to do.
- Surround yourself with people, but only if it is possible to do so safely. Making plans can be the most difficult thing to do when you’re feeling lonely. However, as social beings, we receive a timely boost to our self-esteem when we communicate with one another. If you’re able to and it is safe to do this, spend some time with a friend you care about. If this is not possible, you can always make use of video calls during this time, this might help you connect with more people.
The latest variant of Covid-19, Omicron, is spreading incredibly quickly and there is a very high risk of catching Covid-19 if you meet other people over Christmas. Visit this link to understand the risk and learn about how you can meet people more safely. LINK TO LATEST RISK POST
Coping with Christmas: Tips for managing your Mental Health
There are, thankfully, things you can do to manage Christmas stress and other mental health difficulties you may be experiencing throughout the holiday season. It’s critical that you don’t stuff your sentiments or try to ignore them. Instead, use some of these suggestions to help you control your symptoms so you can focus on having fun.
- Avoid unhelpful social comparisons
It can be damaging to our self-esteem if we don’t believe we measure up to people we see online. This can be exacerbated by social media and consumer advertising, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy that harm our mental health. These characteristics are amplified during the Christmas season, when the holiday becomes the focal point of society.
During the Christmas season, try to restrict your exposure to social media and television commercials by focusing on the benefits of family time.
- Volunteer in your local community
Christmas can be a time of heightened loneliness for some people. This loneliness can be especially terrible for those who have experienced bereavement as a result of the pandemic, which many people have experienced.
If you’ve just lost a loved one, we realise how tough it may be to cope with the first holiday season without them. Many organisations provide assistance throughout the Christmas season, so finding out what is available in your region can be a valuable resource, if it is safe to do so. If you’re spending Christmas alone this year, volunteering safely could help you feel less lonely and give you a sense of purpose.
- Take a break if required
Allow yourself to take a break if your stress levels begin to rise. You may go for a stroll outdoors, have a cup of coffee, or listen to music – whatever helps you relax or unwind. Of course, we understand that if you have a lot of duties, this might be difficult, so schedule your breaks ahead of time. You may, for example, arrange for your partner to take the kids out for a few hours to give you a break, or moderate relatives’ expectations by stating that you will be taking some time off.
- Everything in moderation
It’s easy to overindulge during the holidays, especially since we’ll be spending most of our time at home. However, too much excess can have negative consequences, such as guilt, physical bloating and unwellness, heightened negative emotions from alcohol, which is a depressive, or interaction with prescription medicine.
If you’re alone at home or with others, try to avoid overindulging.
- Look after yourself
Even if your schedule is jam-packed, strive to set aside some time to care for yourself. Exercise, a healthy diet, and lots of restful sleep are just as vital around Christmas as they are throughout the year.
The combination of shorter daylight hours and a lack of sunshine might have a negative impact on your mood. During the frigid Christmas season, many people find themselves confined to their homes. However, even if it’s only for a short stroll, it’s critical that you get out at least once a day if it is safe to do so. These simple mood-boosting activities can help keep your mind sharp and concentrated, making you better prepared to deal with any stress that may arise.
- Don’t look back on the past year
Because Christmas marks the conclusion of the calendar year, individuals tend to reflect on their accomplishments and failures. If you have depression or low self-esteem, any negative sentiments of underachievement or the prior year not living up to your expectations are likely to be exaggerated. Focus on the positives and make a list of goals for the coming year.