Taking Care of Your Mental Health This Christmas

mental health christmas

Christmas is a time for fun, family and festivities but there are some people who find this time of year difficult. I’m not trying to take away from the holiday spirit but I would like to use this platform to raise further awareness for those experiencing mental health difficulties this festive season.

Singer and mental health advocate Ke$ha has written a heartfelt letter/essay for Time– stressing the importance of self-care during the holidays and sharing her own experiences. Her letter inspired me to sit down and think about some self-care tips I can share with my readers to help you through the holiday season.

christmas lights mental health

 

Self-Care at Christmas

I’ve already written a post sharing some self-care tips which you can read here but these are more specific to Christmas and the holiday season!

Feelings of Isolation

Watching everyone around you getting in on all the fun when you’re feeling low can be an extremely isolating experience. You start to wonder why you can’t just enjoy the Christmas spirit like everyone else and it’s really overwhelming, which often leads to…

Guilt

It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to do something unrelated to Christmas. This is part of the reason why I haven’t participated in Blogmas this year. I’m not a huge Christmas person, I don’t feel like I have enough festive cheer to cover 25 Christmas-related posts. There is also a lot of pressure on social media to portray your “Christmas Experience” a certain way. Combat this by limiting your exposure to social media and remember – it’s only one day of the year and certainly not the “be all and end all” that it seems!

It’s also important to be realistic about your own expectations of yourself and others. It’s perfectly ok to politely decline an invitation if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Money

Keeping to a budget over Christmas is really difficult, especially if you have a lot of people to buy for. And that doesn’t even factor in the extra festive nights out and catch-ups with people who are home for the Christmas holidays. It’s easier said than done, but try not to compare yourself with others. Spend within YOUR means. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and don’t forget – it’s the thought that counts!

So. Many. People.

Over the Christmas period – everywhere is packed full of people. Restaurants, bars, shops – you name it, they’re full. One of the main triggers of my anxiety is crowds and tight spaces. Last weekend I tried to get some Christmas shopping in Belfast City Centre on Saturday afternoon. I gave up after half an hour, it was just too much. If you, like me, struggle with crowds – online shopping might be the answer!

Change of Routine

Whilst it’s nice to be out of the office, a change of routine can be difficult to get used to. It’s hard but try not to get too out of sync with your usual routine. This includes your diet, sleeping pattern and alcohol intake. By all means treat yourself but your body will thank you for it later! Increased alcohol intake can also have a detrimental effect on your mood. If you’re struggling with this, suggest holding a catch-up somewhere other than the pub – that way you’re saving money and limiting your intake at the same time!

Christmas lights mental health

Reach Out

If you’re struggling with any of these issues and/or feelings this festive season, please don’t suffer in silence. Charities such as the Samaritans have accessible helplines open 24 hours a day (yes- including Christmas Day!) if you require extra support. Equally, if you think a friend or family member might be struggling – reach out to them.

With all that being said, I hope all of my readers have a safe and relaxing festive season.

46 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Great suggestions Megan! I am not a great fan of Christmas. It was a hard time during my first marriage. I have been blessed with a great 2nd marriage. She loves Christmas! I just find there are too many expectations at this time of year. All the consumerism bothers me. I am finding Christmas a little easier to deal with. I am still not crazy about it. I appreciate your blog. Roland

    1. Roland – thank you so much for taking the time to read. I’m sorry to hear that it was a hard time for you but I’m so glad to hear that things are getting easier now. I agree with you – it has become SO commercial and as though everything is a competition.

      Hope you have a relaxing holiday 🙂 x

  2. Brilliant post – it’s so important to share things like this around this time of year. I’m trying to enjoy Christmas more – I’m literally forcing myself to but I’ll no doubt have some low times over this period xxx

    1. Thank you so much for reading Jenny! It’s important to speak out about this issue – especially when there is so much pressure to enjoy this time of year. It’s not as easy for everyone.

  3. Great post Megan! This is the first year I have gone all out for gifts this year as I have friends, workmates and a boyfriend and his family to buy for and it has been stressing me out lately. This post ha given me some great ideas and is making me feel more at ease.

  4. These are very great tips. As someone who used to struggle a lot during the holiday season, I started doing a lot of things that you listed and now I simply love Christmas and how it brings everyone together.

  5. This is so important! Holiday’s for me usually means lots of time with family, which is usually fun, but it can also make my anxiety worse. I have to remember that it’s okay to take a step back and make sure I’m doing okay personally before really joining in for everything.

    1. I find that family time can go one of two ways. It can be a total blast or a total disaster! But you’re right – always make time for yourself. Hope you have a lovely holiday x

  6. I don’t think I have felt so much guilt during a Christmas season as much of this one. I have many friends going through hard times financially and so I try not to discuss what’s happening shopping wise . I have also made a concerted effort to not stress myself out this year. It happens every year like clockwork. Lovely article.

    1. Exactly – Christmas can be stressful enough without money worries on top of it. I am also strapped for cash this Christmas and I feel so awkward when people talk about spending loads on presents. Thank you so much for reading and I hope that you and your family have a lovely Christmas! x

  7. SO important! We have to take care of ourselves. The holidays can be sad or lonely for some or just overbearingly stressful. Sometimes we just need to recognize what triggers us, like you said and just do some online shopping (totally with you on that one.)

    1. Exactly – I think knowing what triggers you is half the battle. At least then you can take steps to minimise the stress. Hope you have a great holiday season and thank you so much for reading Lauren 🙂 x

  8. This is a nicely written post with some advice that everyone should think about. I think Christmas has far too many expectations and is ridiculously commercialised! It wouldn’t surprise me if people develop mental health issues BECAUSE of Christmas.

    My solution is to only celebrate it every 2 years, and this seems to work well. I actually look forward to it, and appreciate the family time. Nobody expects presents from me and I don’t expect any either. This saves stress, time and money, because I only gift the people I want to. (This only works if you’re able to leave the country for months at a time, which I’m privileged enough to be able to do)

    1. Ellie! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. You are absolutely right – the pressures and expectations around Christmas, especially these days, is more than enough to cause problems. That’s a brilliant plan – I’m glad you’ve found a plan that suits your lifestyle (and I’m also super jealous because I’d love to do the same!) – Hope you’re doing well – I love following your adventures on your blog – York seems so long ago now!

      1. Thanks for your reply! I’m very lucky that since uni, I’ve been able to avoid Christmas when I need to.
        Was really interested to see what you had to say when I saw you’d started a blog. So far I’m liking it 🙂 I think we’re quite different people and yet a lot of what you say seems to resonate with me too.
        York feels like another lifetime! I’d love to live there for a while as a non-student, I miss all the windy streets.
        Look forward to more posts!

  9. Great post. Christmas can be stressful for sure, but we are trying so hard in our house this year for Christmas to be about family and laughter and love. <3

  10. Good tips. It’s hard to believe but this time of these is the most stressful for those who celebrate and participate in festivities. I don’t participate but can see so many ppl having difficulty getting through this month.

  11. You really touched on some important things like feeling isolated even when you’re surrounded by other people. It can be a difficult place to be in, especially during the holidays. Also I agree that finances can make things stressful when you’re on a very tight budget. Being mindful of other people and their circumstances is so essential for focusing on mental health during the holidays. Thanks for your insights and tips on this.

    1. Thank you so much for your insightful comment. I agree, people tend to get caught up in their own drama at Christmas but being mindful of others and their circumstances is equally important. Hope you have a lovely Christmas x

  12. I love this, thank you for taking the time to share your tips! I am the stereotypical Christmas freak – all things Christmas all the time. But it’s nice to see things from a different perspective, Not everyone experiences the holidays the same way I do and it’s awesome that this post exists to let those people to know that “hey, it’s absolutely okay”.

  13. Thank you for this post, I need the encouragement during this time of year. Feels like the older I get the more anxiety I have as Xmas approaches. It’s difficult balancing gift shopping and business investment. Hopefully I’ll be better prepared the next year.

  14. Thank you for putting all of the expectations of the holiday season into perspective. This time of year truly is hard for many people, and sometimes we make it even harder for ourselves. Thanks for the tips and helping us all prepare!

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