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Coping at Christmas - 5 Tips to look after your Mental Health

Dec 07, 2020

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Here are five suggestions for ways to deal with the holiday period:

1.  Avoid social comparisons

Comparison is the thief of joy and I feel that we are now in a place in society with social media, we are always comparing ourselves as soon as we flip on Instagram or Facebook but comparing ourselves to other people can have a massive impact on how we feel. It is not always a bad thing as this can also strive us to do better, it can motivate us to do more. On the flip side, it can put added pressure on our shoulders if we don’t think we can do as well and it can a very negative impact on our mental health and self esteem. Be mindful of this and limit your time on social media, be in the moment and allow yourself to relax in your reality instead of scrolling through the days.

2.  Have realistic expectations about family get togethers

We put special significance on Christmas as a ‘family time’ and a time full of fun and laughter. I think this could be the only time of year that the family do get together as life can be pretty busy and time can pass us by without even realising. Also after COVID19, we have all been separated so that could bring added tension on to Christmas and ‘family time’ this year. It can be a wonderful time but unfortunately, this expectation can place pressure on already broken or strained relationships, especially with people who do not see eye to eye or each other very often. Being realistic about what you can expect from this time together will help avoid disappointments and arguments, which might then make it easier to heal family rifts.

3.  Make time for you!

This is also your break so allow yourself time to actually have a break. Take a walk, read a book, watch a film – whatever allows you to destress from the crazy whirlwind of a year it has been. Set your limits and boundaries as we can feel pressure to join in when we are not feeling up to it, this is important for your own wellbeing. Make time for you!

4. Get Outside

This is one of my favourite things to do as it allows me to switch off, regulate my thoughts and emotions and it has a nice feel to it especially in winter (just be sure to wrap up warm). It is a nice time to reflect on the year but also a nice time for some down time. Especially after the year we have just had. Whether you prefer walking, running, cycling or exercising. Spend time doing something you enjoy. This is great for the mind and you will feel much better for doing it.

5.  Everything in moderation

Christmas is the favourite time of year for a lot of people but a dreaded time for others. I think many of us find the temptation of over indulging at Christmas difficult. This is because we feel as though we have a little break to not worry about anything or because we have a lot to worry about and it is a way of escaping our difficult feelings. On the other angle, over indulging can have a negative impact from feeling bloated or unwell but also guilt which then leads to the January blues of working all the Christmas weight off. Everything is okay in moderation but as soon as we indulge, that is when our underlying issues can come to the surface and ultimately, we can create more problems for ourselves. Be mindful of this, take a walk, do some exercise and it is proven that this has massive benefits to our physical and mental health.

One last thing before I go. Remember that you are not alone. Christmas is always looked at with happy families and full of laughter but like I said earlier on, do not let social media or adverts make you believe that you are not living the correct way and not living up to how Christmas should be. If you are struggling, you can feel even more isolated. Social media and consumerism can have you feeling like your reality is distorted but I promise you that is not real life and you are not alone. If you are struggling, please do reach out to someone and speak. Do not go at it alone.

Have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year!

By Ashley - Alliance Mental Health Ambassador