Christmas is of course meant to be a joyous time surrounded by family and friends, but for many it can be a difficult and sometimes anxious time of the year – and it can take its toll on your mental health. Family dynamics, the pressure to make everything perfect for the big day and financial strains can cause emotions to run high, stress levels to rise, and perhaps feelings of inadequacy to come to the surface which can all cause depression and anxiety.
These simple tips can help you cope with the stresses of the festive season and to look after your mental health.
Planning ahead and writing lists can be very helpful in ensuring that there are no mishaps or things forgotten – and in helping you to pace yourself and cut down on the stress of getting everything done without a last-minute rush.
Don’t try to be superman or superwoman. There’s nothing wrong in asking for help with the long to-do list at Christmas time, particularly if you are beginning to feel stressed out and anxious. Involve family members and/or close friends in the preparations and make it part of the Christmas ‘experience’.
It’s not easy to say sometimes, but saying ‘no’ to that extra invitation or last-minute Christmas favour is sometimes the best thing to do instead of risking spreading yourself too thinly and causing extra stress.
Christmas can be an expensive time of year, and if money is tight, it can cause extra strain on a household budget, especially if we want to really treat those closest to us. Getting into debt can cause extra stress and lead to anxiety and other mental health problems in the long term. Set a budget which is realistic and within your means, and try and stick to it. When it comes to present giving, it really is the thought that counts.
It’s important to talk and to share your feelings if you are finding Christmas difficult and not to bottle up things. Take the time to talk with family and close friends. Sometimes the opposite can be the problem, as old family tensions come to the surface. Try taking ‘five’ and a deep breath first, and the temptation to say something you might later regret will hopefully pass .
It seems an odd thing to suggest at the one time of the year which is usually full of eating and drinking, but it’s important not to indulge too much in the wrong things. Trying to moderate sugar intake is not only good for the waistline, it’s also good for your mental health.
Many people like to enjoy a glass of something as part of their Christmas celebrations, but it can be easy to take things too far. Alcohol is a depressant if consumed in large quantities, and can bring underlying feelings of anxiety and depression to the fore. Enjoy a drink by all means, but spread them out and know when to stop.
Exercise is good for your mental health as well as your physical health. Take the opportunity to get stretch your legs and get outside in between all the festivities. Both your physical fitness and your mental well-being will benefit.
Christmas can mean a lot of running around. Pace yourself, take time out both in the lead up to Christmas and over the festive period. Try and focus on what is important and enjoy the moments with family and friends. Participating in community activities such as carol services and Christmas fairs are also good ways of focusing on feeling part of things and enjoying the festive period.
If things really do start to get on top of you at Christmas and you find you are feeling depressed and anxious, seek professional help from a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist before it develops further.
Private Psychiatry closes for the Christmas period on Friday 21 December at 12.30 pm and opens again on Thursday 27 December at 9.00 am. To make an appointment with any of the consultant psychiatrists, please get in touch with us.