The festive season for lots of people can be a time of joy and a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones, but for some it can be a lonely and stressful period.
Whether you live with a mental health problem or not, there is pressure to socialise with friends and family, more temptation to overindulge in food and drink and of course the financial strain that presents and celebrations can put on your bank balance.
During this time it is important to try to remember to look after your mental health and wellbeing.
Be mindful of…
Alcohol – Although alcohol can initially make you feel more relaxed, it’s important to remember that it’s a depressive and drinking too much can make you feel irritable, aggressive and low. Staying within the recommended limits will also mean you’re much less likely to end up with a hangover!
Food – There’s a tendency to over indulge at Christmas, and there are always lots of tempting treats lying around. But it’s really important to maintain a healthy diet as this will help you maintain a stable mood, and should help prevent irritability and mood slumps.
Sleep – Over the festive period, lots of us find that our sleep patterns become disrupted. We often stay up later than usual, and don’t always catch up on the sleep that we’ve missed. There’s lot of evidence to suggest that not having enough sleep has a negative impact on your mental health, so if possible, do try and head to bed at your usual time every night. It’s also worth remembering that drinking alcohol can have an effect on the quality of your sleep – yet another reason not to drink excessively.
Exercise – It’s really difficult to motivate yourself to exercise in the winter. It’s cold, dark and quite often raining, but it really can make a difference to your mental health. And you don’t even need to leave the house! Why not put on some festive tunes and have a dance, or sing along to some carols while doing the housework?
Relax – Regardless of what’s happening, it’s ok for you to need time out. You know yourself best, and if you need to spend some time relaxing, you should. Some people find mindfulness really useful when things are getting stressful, while others prefer to exercise, or spending time on a hobby, like colouring in.
Taken from mind.org.uk
Here are some top tips for looking after your mental health and wellbeing over the festive period…
Sometimes, the last thing we feel like doing is talking to people. It’s hard to admit that at such an exciting time of year you don’t actually feel that great. But talking about your feelings can improve your mood and make it easier to deal with the tough times. Connecting with other people has lots of benefits for your mental health. Talking through things that are worrying you can be really helpful, just sharing whatever it is can help you feel supported, and listened to. Christmas can also be a really good time to get in touch with people you might not speak to regularly – and you never know who might need a listening ear.
Connecting with people is also a really good chance to do some good. You could find somewhere to volunteer or offer to help out a friend of family member who’s got a lot going on over Christmas, it’s proven to help your mental health by boosting your self-esteem and improving your mood.
Ask for help
Popping on a Christmas jumper can make us feel pretty special but none of us are superhuman. At times we all get overwhelmed by how we feel.
If things are getting too much for you in the next few weeks and you feel like you can’t cope, ask for help. Samaritans are available to speak to all year round – their free helpline number is 116 123 and calls to this number do not appear on phone bills (further support below).
Some of us make people laugh, others cook fantastic meals. Some of our family members thrive on being busy and organised, some live very differently.
Don’t feel under pressure to do more than you feel up to this Christmas.
Take a break
The festive season is a perfect time to take some time out of your day-to-day life and gain some perspective to reflect on the year.
Practicing mindfulness can be a great way to unwind. Read more about mindfulness here.
Care for others
Christmas is the perfect time to reach out to loved ones who you haven’t spent much time on in the past year, a good time to ask how they are. This doesn’t have to be in person, you can arrange a zoom call. Caring for others is an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together and makes you feel good!
Need more support?
If you are concerned that you are developing a mental health problem you should seek the advice and support of your GP as a matter of priority. If you are in distress and need immediate help and are unable to see a GP, you should visit your local A&E.
Samaritans Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
NHS Information page for dealing with a mental ill health crisis or emergency. Including NHS 111 Helpline.
We are all very different. Thinking of Christmas time and festivities for many evokes joy, happiness and excitement, which is a wonderful feeling to have.
For others, Christmas can be fraught with unhappy memories, stressful and overwhelming. Try to recognise this and do what you can to extend understanding and empathy to those who are struggling.
It is easy to get carried away with gift-giving and over-indulging, but at the very basic level, we are all humans in need of connection and love, especially after the last 2 years, so look after those around you this year and practice some kindness.
1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from a mental health issue each year, with 1 in 6 experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week. (MIND, June 2020)
While it is a legal requirement to have physical first aiders in every workplace, and in many public places and events, we’re still a long way from seeing our mental health treated in the same way.
Here at SkillBase First Aid we hope to change that by training people as mental health first aiders to be able to assist those suffering with mental ill health in the workplace, and signposting them to get the appropriate professional help.
We also have a dedicated Mental Health Training Team to consult with you and your organisation on strategy, implementing MHFA and all wellbeing related policies. Get in touch to find out more!