Top tips to look after your mental health and eliminate stress this Christmas

By | November 24, 2019

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year but it can come with a whole stocking full of stress.

In a study by mental health ­charity Mind, eight in ten said they found the festive season tough, with four in ten fearing going into debt.

The pressure to create a perfect day full of Instagram-ready Christmas trees, beaming family members and delicious food can strain relationships too.

Here are some tips from Mind’s Stephen Buckley, on how to cope with the stresses of the festive season:

1 Take a break from it all

Christmas can be overwhelming and it’s OK to take a break when you need to. You might feel pressure to be in the festive spirit 24/7, but it’s fine if you are not.

Do something relaxing and
non-Christmassy for yourself, such as having a bath or listening to your favourite podcast or audiobook.

Limit your drinking over the festive period as it is more likely to make you feel down

2 Mind the alcohol

You might feel tempted or pressured to drink more than usual over Christmas but alcohol is a depressant and can affect your mental health.

Drinking can make you feel irritable, low and even aggressive.

3 Try a mindful walk

Yes, it is cold out there but it is ­important to get outside if you can and enjoy the fresh air.

If you are feeling stressed or low, try a mindful walk in a park or beauty spot.

Notice the feeling of your body moving, the breeze against your skin, different textures on the ground and different smells. It can have a calming effect.

Even though it’s cold out there it’s important to get fresh air and exercise

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4 Forget about perfection

Many of us feel pressured for ­everything to be exactly how we pictured – from the beautifully decorated tree to the big dinner.

Christmas can be expensive and Mind’s research shows one in ten people feels unable to cope because of this.

Try to stick to a budget, and do not worry if things don’t always go to plan.

Manage children’s expectations by letting them know they will not receive everything on their list and ­remind them Christmas is about spending time ­together.

5 Get some rest

Our sleep patterns can become disrupted by Christmas. We often stay up later and do not always catch up on sleep that we’ve missed.

There’s lot of evidence to suggest that not having enough sleep has a negative impact on mental health.

Try to get to bed at your usual time every night and remember alcohol can have an effect on the quality of your sleep.

Forget about perfection and manage your family’s expectations

6 Be crafty with friends

Christmas is the perfect time to flex your creative muscles and save yourself a few bob.

Making cards or crackers can be almost meditative as you repeat the activity, and can help you switch off from the pressures of the holidays.

Hosting a “crafternoon” with a group of mates can turn it into a fun social activity while also fundraising for Mind.

Search “crafternoon” ­online to find out more.

7 Exercise outdoors

Exercise can help release festive tension.

Some 94 percent of people who took part in outdoor exercise
activities, such as walking or ­gardening, said green exercise ­activities helped their mental health.

It can also help you sleep better, improve your mood and boost energy levels.

Physical activity also gives your brain something else to focus on and can be a good coping strategy for difficult times.

 

It’s the perfect time to pick up crafts and save yourself a few bob on presents

8 If it is all getting too much…

Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety don’t stop for Christmas time.

It is normal to feel stressed or lower than usual, especially if it is a time of year that brings back difficult memories or makes it harder to deal with things.

But if you have had feelings that are worrying you or you are ­struggling, it might be a good idea to talk to your GP.

If you are not sure when they are open at Christmas, contact NHS111 in England and Scotland or 0845 4647 in Wales to get support.

Samaritans is open 24/7 on 116 123 or jo@samaritans.org .


Mirror – Health