5 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health This Christmas

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Managing mental health is tough all year round.

However, when it comes to winter and the Christmas season, it can seem to be especially hard, given all the stresses that come with it.

Not only do darker nights and colder temperatures affect one’s mood, but the season of cheer is not for everyone – particularly if you struggle with a mental health problem.

From stressed out shoppers in crowded shops and streets to large work or family gatherings, the festive period is the ultimate sensory overload.

In addition, it’s the time of year when we put extra pressure on ourselves to ensure everything goes smoothly.

But that can affect your mental health in a lot of different ways.

For example, you may feel left out because everyone’s happy but you’re not, or you may feel frustrated by other people’s views of a perfect Christmas.

In fact, according to the NHS, one in four adults in the UK are likely to experience poor mental health over Christmas.

That said, here are 5 ways to survive the festive period and protect your mental health this Christmas.

1. Be Selective

When you’re invited to lots of different events, be it from work, friends or family, it can become both overwhelming and exhausting if you’re trying to attend them all.

As such, be selective about the social events that you want to attend, and remind yourself that you are not obliged to go to everything.

Simply, by choosing only the ones you want to go to, you’ll enjoy them more and avoid feeling burnt out when it comes to the new year.

Plus, give yourself a little break in between each event where you can enjoy a workout or even just be tucked in bed with a hot chocolate and a movie.

By scheduling in some evenings for rest and recovery in between social engagements, you can still celebrate the joy whilst also taking care of yourself.

2. Catch Up with Coffee not Alcohol

It’s that time of year where many people will over-indulge on booze.

However, whilst some alcohol in moderation is fine, consuming too much will have a negative impact on your mental health.

The reason being is alcohol interferes with the chemicals in your brain that regulates hormones contributing to mental health.

Yes, a drink may relax you, but overconsumption can contribute to feelings of depression, worsen sleep and intensify negative emotions.

And with Christmas being a busy and stressful time as it is, alcohol will just make it worse.

With that said, why not catch up with friends or relatives over a Christmas coffee instead? 

After all, many pubs, cafes and restaurants will have plenty of festive flavours out there for you to try.

3. Be Realistic about Family Expectations

A lot of us have some unrealistic expectations about how the Christmas holidays should go.

But let’s face it, nobody’s family is perfect and nor will your house look like something out of the movies.

And if you’re hoping for the perfect family get-together, you’re setting yourself up for failure, along with added stress and emotional fatigue that comes with it.

Remember, not everything will go smoothly, and your family may not always get along, and that’s OK.

So, choose not to let their behaviour get to you; for example, if an aunt cancels at the last minute, perhaps they had a good reason, so give her the benefit of the doubt.

Trouble is, if you’re too focused on achieving the ideal family Christmas, you may miss out on the unexpected moments that are perfect, be it in the form of a memorable conversation or dancing to your favourite Christmas song.

All in all, Christmas moments do not need to be significant; the smallest details can blossom into the most treasured moments, so try to be realistic about your family expectations.

4. Spend Time Outdoors

No matter how strict your exercise routine and diet plan is, it’s very easy to fall off track over Christmas – just think about all the indulgent food and drink!

And this unfortunately can have an effect on your fitness.

That said, if during the holidays you can’t keep up with your fitness regime, consider making new traditions like spending time outdoors instead.

Yes, it’s cold.

But you must remember to keep active and this is your chance to either be around some real Christmas trees or, for something a bit more fun, go ice skating.

By spending time outdoors, this can help to improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, help you feel more relaxed and help you to get  more active – positively impacting both your mental and physical wellbeing.

5. Prioritise Yourself

With Christmas parties and family gatherings in full swing, it can be quite hard to try and make time for yourself.

Although catching up with loved ones is great, constantly being around people can result in you feeling socially drained.

So among that jam packed calendar, make sure you have a day booked for yourself, a “me” day.

Essentially, this will be your time to do whatever it is you want to; maybe it’s an opportunity to catch up on sleep, bake cookies or watch movies – whatever it is, it’s for you.

It’s also worth noting here, during this festive time a lot of people will be posting on social media about what they’re up to and where they’re going.

However, for those who are spending Christmas alone, seeing upbeat content again and again can become quite difficult.

Furthermore, many people fall into the habit of making comparisons to others online, leading to not appreciating what they have.

Therefore, whilst you’re taking time out for yourself, make sure you take a break from social media over Christmas too.

Wrapping Up

If Christmas is a hard time for you, just know that you are not alone.

By no means are these ways discussed above universal.

For example, Christmas can also be a positive boost to mental health for some as they feel uplifted by taking part in social gatherings.

However, if you do find you’re under a lot of stress, make sure you have someone to speak to and share your feelings, and take a break when it gets too much.

Lastly, always remember that there is no such thing as perfect, so have realistic expectations of yourself and others.

Please contact us today to find out more.

Check our Court of Protection Solicitors in the meantime.

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