Christmas is upon us and it is a stressful time of year at the best of times but add mental health to the mix and it can become a nightmare.
The pressure to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas is all around us, to have the best turkey, the best tree, the best gifts, the most lavish lights attached to the front of your house and how do you meet all these standards? Simple answer is you don’t. Remember that the real meaning of Christmas is about being present instead of giving presents, it’s about spending time with loved ones and spending the festive time however you wish to spend it.
I think it is important to look after yourself over the Christmas period. It’s expected to be a time for celebration and with that can come unwanted anxiety and stress so here are some useful self-care tips to help you have a joyful Christmas!
It’s ok to say no
If you are getting worked up about going to a party or social event remember that it is ok to say no, they will understand and it is not worth damaging your mental health over.
Take time out
Be sure to take out some time for you, even if it’s just a 20/30 minute break to refresh and relax, socialising can be exhausting so don’t over do it and burn yourself out.
Money, money, money
It can be an expensive time of year with gifts, meals out and getting in the party food. Remember that it’s not about spending lots of money that you don’t have, so don’t get yourself into debt or spend beyond your limits, that will lead to more anxiety!
If you are feeling down or anxious don’t keep all those feelings to yourself, consider being open with family and friends, they might be waiting for the opportunity to listen and support you and they can’t effectively help if you don’t tell them you are struggling.
Depression can lead to less of an appetite so you may not feel up to eating a three course meal or excessive amounts of party food or if you are feeling anxious you may not feel comfortable eating in front of others. Don’t force yourself to eat and don’t let people pressure you into eating, you could always eat before and let people know you have eaten!
A routine is safe, we know where we are going, what time we need to be there and who is going to be there so throwing away the routine can be SCARY! Remember it is only a couple of days without routine, try asking questions to reassure yourself, know times/places and who’s attending so you can plan your day without too many surprises.
Christmas is often associated with drinking alcohol, you can have Bucks Fizz in the morning and it can continue throughout the day. If you don’t feel comfortable drinking then don’t let people pressure you into it, alcohol can interfere with medication and it can lower your mood so don’t let it spoil your Christmas.
Lonely this Christmas
Christmas can be a lonely time for people who don’t have family/friends to spend time with, when others are happy and around company it can be hard to be alone, remember there are places to volunteer within your community or if you don’t feel like seeing people it’s ok to snuggle in bed if that’s what you want too.
Not so happy pills
If we are on medication it can have side effects such as nausea, anxiety or drowsiness, for me I get the shakes first thing in the morning which can be frustrating but it does wear off throughout the day. Your health comes before anything, it’s a tough time of year so keep up with daily medication and check with a professional before consuming alochol incase it has an effect on your medication functioning properly!
Is everyone happy?!
There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas, everyone’s opinion on a ‘perfect’ Christmas will be completely different so try not to get worked up about pleasing everyone, it’s an impossible task. Don’t burn yourself out, sometimes you have to put yourself and your mental health first, it’s not selfish, think of it as 'you can’t help people unless you first help yourself', so take the time to look after yourself.
In Sophie's words: "I don’t take life too seriously, always joking and making people laugh! Family and friends mean the world to me, and my little cat tiggs! Music is my life, I spend most of time with my headphones on listening to anything and everything, I believe ‘When words fail music speaks’! I am more creative than anything I love writing and knowing that hopefully writing my struggles can help other people is just the best feeling ever! I cannot wait for the future so I can train to be a counsellor and hopefully help someone the way my counsellor has helped me!"