Although it's supposed to be 'the most wonderful time of the year', many of us find Christmas tough on our mental health. According to a YouGov survey, a quarter of the population finds Christmas more challenging than the rest of the year, while about one in four of us have struggled with anxiety or depression over the festive season,
Feeling low around Christmas is especially common among people who are unemployed (38%), divorced (35%) or widowed (31%). It’s less so, but not unusual, for parents with kids living at home (23%).
Younger people are more likely to find Christmas uplifting but the effect seems to tail off over time. Over half of 18 to 24-year-olds say their mental health is better in December, compared to only three in ten who are aged 55 or older.
5 Helpful Reminders If You're Struggling
It can be an overwhelming time of the year for many of us, so this year we have made a list of
5 Helpful Reminders to keep in mind if you're struggling with your mental health during Christmas time.
1. Make A Plan Of Action
Make lists and plan realistically, everything will be more enjoyable if you're not racing against time. Don't overspend, it really is the thought that counts and the little things and gestures mean so much more than the price ticket. This year especially we crave human kindness and interaction more than anything money can buy, even if it can only be via Facetime or Zoom.
2. Do It Your Way
Forget what people expect - make it your Christmas. If you don't feel like a traditional Christmas and don't have anyone nearby to celebrate with, take time for yourself to do what you like. You could organise something else for the day, like volunteer work or helping at a local event. You could plan a long walk somewhere, bring a flask with a hot drink and a nice snack, enjoy nature and get some fresh air in your cheeks. Remember Christmas looks different for everyone and you should spend it in a way that makes you feel as relaxed as possible.
3. Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask a friend or loved one to help with some of your responsibilities. You don’t have to take everything on yourself - it’s important to feel supported but you will have to ask for this support in order to receive it – there is no shame in asking for help, it’s actually a sign of strength. If you don’t feel you have anyone you can turn to, there are lots of amazing organisations you can contact such as MIND and YOUNGMINDS.
4. Take Time To Remember Your Loved One
If this is your first Christmas without someone you’ve lost, Christmas day is most likely going to feel very difficult and empty without them. It may help to take some time out of your day to remember your loved one. This could be something such as lighting a candle in their memory, looking through photos of your loved one, remembering or discussing positive memories you’ve had with this person, or writing down everything that you would like to say to your loved one. It might help you to feel as though you are including the person that you’ve lost in your Christmas celebrations.
5. Schedule In Time For Self-care
The end of the year is a good time to take a look back at the year and note down (or make a mental note) of the things you've been grateful for during the year. Just as importantly it's a good mindfulness exercise to also take note of any difficult things you've experienced throughout the year that you would like to 'let go off'. Take some deep breath and 'blow them away' one by one and promise yourself you've dealt with it and no longer need to work on these things in your mind. Make room for new positive experiences to enliven you and energise you. Remember you can decide to be in charge of yourself and your mind.
Allow yourself time to unwind and relax - and we all have our different ways of doing that. For me, a long run or walk and sticking to my exercise routine as much as possible despite Christmas works wonders. Other people might prefer meditation, taking a long hot bath, reading a book next to the fire or watching a film. Whatever works for you.