Christmas can be a great time of year, spending time with family and friends, eating, drinking and celebrating all things festive. But it can also be a lonely, sad and tough time of year.
We can get caught up with the stress of buying the perfect gift, ordering in huge amounts of food so you can cook that perfect dinner and finding the time to decorate the house to perfection when really it should be a time of joy and relaxation. It’s a time to be more social with office parties, festive events and all things Christmassy. The pressure of having the perfect Christmas rather than just enjoying Christmas can out way in the build-up.
Mental health doesn’t just disappear because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t take a vacation for a couple of days and then come back when it’s all over, it will still be there when you wake up on Christmas morning and maybe even more escalated because of that. It can be hard as it can bring up memories of loved ones who have passed, magnifies things that are already going on in your life and brings new challenges.
This is a reminder to be gentle with yourself this festive season, it’s ok not to be ok, Christmas is a time of year to be enjoyed without pushing yourself with un-necessary stress, everyone will have a different idea of what Christmas should be and what it means to them and all that matters is yours. Pretending to be ‘happy’ and in the festive spirit when you feel the opposite can be exhausting, having the worry of spoiling other people’s time because of the way you are feeling adds to the pressure, you want to feel that childlike excitement but it’s just not there.
If you aren’t excited you are associated as the ‘Bah-Humbug’ or ‘Miserable’ which can feel deflating, especially if you feel you are trying your best, it can almost feel like a failure. Opening up to family and friends can take a weight off your shoulders, tell them how you are feeling or if you are struggling with anything, it can be a relief and less pressure to have to please everyone. Having a bit of extra support from others can make it all a bit more manageable and have a better understanding of what is going on for you.
Be kind to yourself, you are doing your best and know that that is enough, it’s ok to take time out this season to look after you and have some self-care, don’t burn yourself out, you can’t pour from an empty cup to take care of yourself. Check in on your friends and family, they may be acting ‘Fine’ but deep down need a listening ear or someone to lean on. It may take a bit of time to find a Christmas routine that suits you but once you do it can make the season more enjoyable.
Sophie Collumbell is a regular writer for the Counsellors Café Magazine. 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 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!'