Christmas for some is a joyous time for most, filled with celebrations, presents, family, friends, and delicious food. For some of our patients, it can be a time of stress, loneliness, disappointment, or anxiety. This can affect their mental health in lots of different ways, which include:
- Feeling alone or left out because everyone else seems happy when they’re not.
- Struggling to look back at difficult memories or worry about the coming year.
- Feeling anxious and frustrated by other people’s views of a ‘perfect’ Christmas.
- Finding it harder to access services as they may be closed during the holiday period.
Amid all the flurry of Christmas, taking time to reflect on few simple ways to help patients, as well as ourselves, could make all the difference. Here are 5 tips to make the upcoming festive season a little more manageable:
- Stay active: It is important you stay healthy over the holidays and exercising can be huge mood booster and a great way get you out of your own mind for a while.
- Do only what matters: Decide which activities and traditions are matters most to you. It is okay to decline the activities which cause stress or are insignificant for you. Avoid social comparisons and have realistic expectations. It is okay to reminisce but don’t look back too much when it hurts. Live in the moment.
- Pace yourself: Be aware of your signs of stress and take a break. Take a few deep breaths, go for a walk, or try some mindfulness.
- Have a safety plan: Create safety plan for you and your loved ones over the holidays should anything happen. Who can you contact in case of an emergency and are they available over Christmas? What services are open over the Christmas period that could help you and your family?
- You are not alone: Lots of people find this period difficult too. Seek connection with others if you are struggling, there are still support organisations open at this time of year if you need them (e.g., Lifeline). Join a community group, volunteer for a worthy cause, donate your resources,
Whilst Christmas may be a month away, it never too early to get started with these tips and look forward to a safe and joyous festive season. And to welcome a wonderful new year ahead.