6 tips to improve your mental health at Christmas
24th December 2019
Although many people associate Christmas as a happy time and a time for having fun and enjoying yourself, for many it can negatively impact on their mental health. The stress of buying presents, organising for the big day, increased workloads and the pressure to get involved, have a good time and get everything done on time can be overwhelming. For many, Christmas is also a difficult time, for those who are lonely or have lost a loved one, Christmas can just serve to highlight this further.
During this time, it is important to look after your mental health and wellbeing, to ensure you can enjoy yourself too. It can be hard for many to know how to take control of their mental health and wellbeing especially at such a busy time. To help you combat negative mental health during the festive period, we have listed a number of tips you can follow which can help you take charge of your mental health and wellbeing and ensure you’re looking after yourself this Christmas.
Share your feelings
Sharing your feelings with a friend, family member or even a trained counsellor can help you feel better and release some of the tension you’re feeling. Talking to another person and just letting all your feelings out can be therapeutic and this person can also give you another perspective on your issues which can help you to feel better or tackle them.
Stuart Hill, senior digital lead for the Mental Health Foundation says “It’s hard to admit that at such an exciting time of the year you don’t actually feel that great. But talking about your feelings can improve your mood and make it easier to deal with the tough times. It’s part of taking charge of your mental wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.”
Avoid social comparisons and take a break from social media
We often compare ourselves to others, whether these are family, friends or just people we follow online. This comparison can have a huge effect on how we feel and if we think we aren’t as good, or feel we aren’t doing as much then it can have a negative impact on our self-esteem. Social media can play a large part in this when we are bombarded with images of people spending loads of money, socialising with friends all the time, having a lot of fun and in general just looking good and happy over the festive period. Many people see these images and compare themselves to them and if they’re feeling down already this can push them over the edge. People may think why am I not that happy? Why don’t my friends want to spend time with me? Or just feel sad they can’t afford as much as other people can. This can have a negative impact on our mental health.
If you think that this can be affecting you negatively, take a break from social media. Even if it’s just a few hours a day or one day a week, it can have a real difference on your mental health and self-esteem. As hard as it is, we have to try not compare ourselves to others and remember not everything you see online is an accurate representation of how someone is feeling or the life they’re actually leading.
Around Christmas it’s easy to get lost in work, buying presents and prioritising what family and friends want to do. However, it is important to remember to look after our own mental health. At this time of year, we can all be guilty of not practicing self-care which can lead us to getting stressed out, losing sleep and feeling mentally and physically exhausted. Make sure you take the time for yourself and practice self-care.
Try scheduling in some time every day, even if it’s just 30 minutes, to do something for yourself. This could be a nice hot bath, reading a book, watching a programme you love or meditating. Sometimes self-care can even be saying no to something that you don’t want to do like a night out when you just want to curl up in bed. You shouldn’t ever feel guilty for saying no and looking after yourself. Make yourself and your mental health a priority, no matter what time of the year it is.
Eat and drink in moderation
At Christmas time it’s very easy to overindulge with nights out, Christmas parties and the array of delicious Christmas foods surrounding us. However, overeating and drinking too much can have a negative effect on us not just mentally but physically. Eating too much can lead us to feeling bloated and unwell and can make us put on weight, which can affect our self-esteem. Too much sugar can also have a noticeable effect on your mental health and wellbeing in the short and long term. Alcohol is also a known depressant, if you are already feeling down this can make you feel worse, not to mention the side effects from drinking too much such as a hangover, being sick and the inability to work. A lot of people drink to deal with loneliness but the feeling is only ever temporary.
Of course, you should treat yourself and let go a little at Christmas, but don’t go too far and over indulge too much as this will have a negative effect. The Mental Health Foundation states “It’s great to catch up with friends or colleagues in the pub – spending time on good relationships is essential for good mental health – but know your limits.” Enjoy yourself, but be sensible during the festive period.
It is a well-known fact that exercise releases endorphins which make you feel happy and can boost your self-esteem, help you sleep better and also feel better. It is also a great way to relieve stress and tension. By keeping your body healthy you can help to keep your mind healthy. We know the icy temperatures and shorter days aren’t the best motivation to get you out of bed and exercising but keeping active really can help. Even if you just do 30 minutes a day of exercise it can have a positive effect. Try going for a run when you get up to get you ready for the day, walk or cycle to work or do a yoga session in your front room. Whatever it is you enjoy, just get yourself moving.
Do something you love
Much like practicing self-care, taking the time out to do something you love can have a positive effect on your mental health. It could be anything, maybe you enjoy baking, wrapping Christmas gifts, making cards, running, singing or just spending some time with the people you love. Christmas is the perfect time to take a break and spend a bit of time doing something you love and enjoy that you may not get the time to do as much throughout the year. If you’re doing something you love and you’re good at it as well this can have a positive effect on your self-esteem.
We understand Christmas can be a difficult time for many and it can seriously impact their mental health and wellbeing. That’s why we have come up with this list of simple ways you can help combat negative mental health and improve how you feel during the festive period. Follow these tips and you’re sure see an improvement. Kays Medical want to ensure you have a happy and enjoyable Christmas and take a well-deserved break as the year comes to an end.