Christmas can be a joyful time of year for a lot of people. A chance to see loved ones and to spend time with friends and family. But it can also be a challenging time of year, and a very lonely one for many people. Mental health problems don’t disappear over Christmas – for many people they get worse. One in 10 people feel unable to cope at this time of year, according to research by the charity Mind – a figure which rises to a third of people with a mental health problem. Many people can feel isolated at this time of year and can feel pressure from family and friends.
Here are our 5 tips on how to cope better at Christmas if you are struggling with stress and anxiety over the festive period:-
- Plan ahead. Sticking to a routine or making a list of things you need to do can really help at this time of year and can stop the feeling of being overwhelmed. If you are hosting something over Christmas, start planning it now. Make a list of what you need to do & buy and cross it off as you go along – it will help you organise your thoughts and prevents you forgetting those important things.
- Don’t be pressured into anything. You don’t have to attend next door’s New Year’s Eve party if you don’t feel comfortable – you can say no and you don’t have to give a reason why! This also relates to spending money on presents. Around 41% of people surveyed by the charity Mind reported getting into debt over Christmas. It’s not all about gifts and spending money – which can put pressure on us and increase stress. Your family and friends will understand – handmade gifts are more meaningful anyway!
- Do something you love. Christmas can be a reminder of the loved ones we’ve lost over the years which can be really difficult to deal with at this time of year. Take some time to enjoy doing things which you enjoy – whether it’s spending quality time with the people you love the most or reading a good book. Sometimes it’s just the little things in life that’s the most important!
- Be healthy. We tend to indulge over Christmas, which can have a huge impact on mental health symptoms and make us feel worse. We’re not saying don’t enjoy festive food over the holidays, but bear in mind the effect it can have on our well-being too. Also remember how beneficial exercise is for mental health. It might make you feel better just going out for a walk in the fresh air to lift your mood and help with anxiety.
- Be mindful of others and consider their feelings too. There might be somebody at work who is struggling too – have you noticed a colleague who is unusually quiet at the moment or looks a bit stressed? It might be a nice idea to invite them for a drink over the festive break – even if they decline it’s still lovely to be asked!