Christmas (and the lead up to Christmas) are lovely, and such a magical time for a number of reasons. However, for a lot of people the festive season is actually a really difficult time. It’s important to remember that those you love and care about with mental health struggles may still find this time of year difficult, mental health doesn’t disappear just because it’s Christmas.
I’ve always found that my mental health takes a dive towards the end of the year, so I’ve come to expect it now and can better prepare myself. So I thought I would do a Blogmas post on some of the ways that I try to look after myself during the holiday period.
Don’t feel like you have to drink.
In past years, I’ve felt there’s a real pressure to drink alcohol. There’s been many years where I will binge drink and be left feeling awful, and not just because of the hangover. I find after drinking, my anxiety is worse and my moods can get really low.
It’s quite a big thing that you can drink more during the holiday period, and I don’t judge anyone that decides to. I’ll still be drinking, but I don’t drink because I feel I have to and I certainly don’t go out of my limits. This past year has taught me a lot and I’m more than happy now to have a few glasses of wine and call it a night, and that’s what’s right for me.
If you find that alcohol affects your mental health in a negative way, then maybe look at cutting down over Christmas?
Don’t overdo it.
This is a big one for parents, but it can also be the case for a lot of people. Christmas is probably the biggest holiday there is, and there is so much pressure to do everything in the lead up to Christmas and on Christmas Day. You need to buy gifts for everyone, you need to socialise with lots of people, you need to plan Christmas dinner, you need to plan when to see family. There is also the added stress with covid this year!
If you find yourself starting to feel worn out and it’s not even Christmas yet, then it might be worth considering that perhaps you’re overdoing it slightly. If that’s the case, before you suffer from burn out, take a step back and leave the things you need to do for a while. Even if it’s just for a few hours or a day or 2, they can all wait, but your mental health and wellbeing should come first.
Take some time out for you.
Christmas is a very social holiday, and it’s very focused on spending time with the people you love. Which is lovely, but it’s also important to take some time to reset and refresh. I find if I’m around big groups of people for too long I can’t feel myself physically draining, so I try to make time to have a little bit of time to myself.
It’s great spending time with people, but don’t feel bad if you feel like you need an hour to yourself just to settle down. There’s nothing wrong with that!
Don’t feel guilty.
For so long I felt awful when I’d get really low in the lead up to Christmas. I’d feel sad, weepy and just a bit crap. This lead to me feeling so guilty, because I felt like I should be over the top happy and that Christmas was a time for joy. It felt like there was something wrong with me, and then I felt awful because I felt like I didn’t deserve to feel like this.
As I said earlier, you cannot control how you feel if you suffer from mental health issues. If you feel sad at this time of year, then you have every right to feel that way. You shouldn’t feel like you have to force yourself to ‘better’ just because it’s Christmas. Just try to be more kind and understanding to yourself, imagine what you would say if your thoughts were coming from someone you love.
Do what makes you happy.
Like I said earlier in this post, because Christmas is such a social orientated holiday there’s a lot of pressure to please everyone. You do what will make the children happy, or your partners happy or your family happy. So sometimes it’s good to take a step back and think about what will make you happy.
It’s a holiday that is supposed to make everyone happy, and that includes you. So try and do one thing a day that makes you feel happy.
These are just a few of my tips on how I try to look after my mental health during the lead up to Christmas. If any of you struggle with mental health issues and find the festive period difficult, our door is always open to talk.
Please try to be kind to yourselves, and stay safe.
You can check out our other Blogmas posts just here.