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Christmas Mental Health Advice… All Wrapped Up

Wednesday 13 December 2017

There are a lot of things we associate with Christmas… Family, presents, tinsel and all the trimmings.

But for some people Christmas can be a time of stress, worry, loneliness and crisis. Whether it involves worrying about debt, relationships, being on your own or feeling over-whelmed with planning the big day there are numerous factors that can build up over the festive season and make us feel down and affect our mental health. We’ve gathered up some of the best advice so you can keep going this Christmas and not let the occasion bring you down.

  1. Talk about it…

    It sounds so simple yet can be one of the hardest things to do. If you’re having a problem, talking to someone about it can make you feel better and help you realise you are not alone.  If you don’t have anyone to talk to, or feel you can’t talk to friends and family about a problem seek professional help either via your GP, The Samaritans(116 123), Sane (0300 304 7000) MIND (0300 123 3393) or your local mental health provider.

  2. Be realistic about money…

    Christmas can be the hardest time of the year financially with a pressure to buy expensive gifts or cater for everyone. Poor mental health makes it harder to manage your money while managing your money poorly can worsen your mental health. Be realistic – you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great Xmas, and if you are struggling financially, you don’t want to make things worse by spending money you don’t have.  Set yourself a realistic budget and stick to it.  There is a lot of FREE help and advice available for managing financial problems. Visit www.stepchange.org or call 0800 138 1111 to get started – you will feel so much better once you get the right support…

  3. Don’t take on too much…

    Only you know what you’re capable of and if you’re doing to much, scale it back. Plan your Christmas, and work out what you are going to do over the holidays. If you are hosting work out how many people you can host, cook and buy for and ask for help with the preparations and washing-up! Don’t place unnecessary pressure upon yourself to buy expensive gifts or cook for every family member on your own and make time for yourself.

  4. Stay in touch…

    Keep friends and family in mind if you aren’t able to get out to see anyone, think about a video call to see family, send an email or even just a text. Hearing from someone you love can help you to feel valued and realise that you aren’t alone at this time of the year. If you have no one to get in touch with, consider joining interest groups such as those advertised on www.meetup.com , volunteering or getting involved in a community activity so you aren’t on your own this Christmas. This can help you make new friends and gain a sense of self-worth by helping others…

  5. Family arguments…

    Unfortunately, with all the pressure around the Christmas period, family arguments are often considered a staple at Christmas. However, there are a few things you can do to avoid the confrontations. Agree to disagree on issues, and try not to bring up the past or take sides if families are at war. Don’t expect the day to be perfect, accidents and mistakes will happen, and try to remain calm. Do your own thing and make time for yourself – you don’t need to be together for every minute of the day, and if you need to simply step away from everything and take a break do so! If children are in the house, try to focus on them and create an argument free zone around them, so that memories of Christmas are as happy and stress free as possible…

  6. Drinking and taking drugs doesn’t solve problems…

    Whatever you may be feeling, sometimes there is an urge to have a drink or take drugs to make problems go away. However, Alcohol is a depressant and only tends to add to problems and drugs can make you feel much worse. A Christmas tipple is fine in moderation, but if you feel that alcohol or drugs are starting to be a problem in themselves, see our top tips for dealing with Alcohol and Drugs over the Christmas period..

  7. Don’t overindulge…

    It can be tempting to over-eat at Christmas. however a poor diet can have a significant impact on your mental health. Recent research has proven that there is a significant correlation between good mental health and a balanced, healthy diet. Over the Christmas period ensure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Unlike junk food, the sugars from fruit and vegetables are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream and leave you feeling fuller and don’t cause the initial high followed by the crash leaving you feeling low.

  8. Stay active…

    As appealing as sitting on the couch watching TV can be around Christmas, keeping yourself active can have a very positive effect on your mental health. Why not try taking a walk in the park, or countryside or something new like ice-skating or bowling to keep you moving. This will make you feel even better if you can do it with friends or family.

  9. Maintain a healthy sleep pattern…

    Sleep is central to maintaining good mental health. Lack of sleep leads to tiredness, makes dealing with day to day life more difficult and can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression – making problems seem much worse than they really are. If you find it difficult to get to sleep or are sleeping too much, try to actively improve your sleep patterns by improving your diet, exercising and having set times to go to bed and get up in the morning. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine (tea and coffee) before bed and not using electric devices such as TV’s, laptops, smart-phones etc. before trying to go to sleep, can make a big difference.  if sleep remains a problem for you see your GP.

  10. Switch off from work…

    Time away from work can be just as stressful as being there. While you’re off over the Christmas period make sure you switch off. That could be as simple as not checking your work emails if you do not genuinely have to. Taking this time to relax, see family and just not think about work can mean when you do return you’ll be fully charged and looking at your work with fresh eyes and a clearer, less stressed mind…

  11. Have fun…

    Whatever it is that makes you happy – do it! Be it a Christmas movie marathon, go to a pantomime, visit a Christmas market, make your own decorations or cards, dancing to Christmas songs or even wearing an awful Christmas jumper – do as many things over the holidays that simply put a smile on your face! Keeping yourself occupied and having fun need not be expensive, and can make your outlook on everything so much more positive.

  12. Get help if you need it…

    Mental Health covers many conditions, situations and circumstances. If you feel like things are becoming too much ask for help! Contact your GP or organisations such as those listed above and if Alcohol or Substance abuse are factors contact us for private treatment and support on 03333 448 288.

Wishing you all good mental health for Christmas and the New Year!

 

The Team

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