The festive season is a busy time for most. There is so much to do, attend and plan, which can bring up feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, and depressed. Conversely, this is also a time where people may feel acutely aware of the void left by the loss of a loved one, and their own personal loneliness.
Who can be affected?
Holiday depression, anxiety and stress can affect anyone at any age. Sometimes, these feelings are triggered by a specific event or life experience. There are many things happening around the holidays and Christmas in particular that can act as triggers.
Below we have compiled a list of tips to help look after you and your mental health this festive season:
1. Eat Well
Christmas is typically a time of overindulgence, but what we eat can sometimes impact on how we feel. For example, too much sugar can have a noticeable effect on your mental health and wellbeing in the short and long term. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a little bit of overindulgence, but a good tip is to balance this out over the festive period – everything in moderation! Be sure to include plenty of fruit and vegetables into your diet, the more colour the better.
2. Take a Break
The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to take some time out of your day to day life and gain some perspective to reflect on the year. Whether spending time away from home or having a stay-cation, re-energise by giving yourself a change of scene or pace. Practicing mindfulness can help you unwind.
3. Keep Active
Research shows that doing exercise releases chemicals in your body that can make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you to concentrate; sleep and feel better. Exercise also keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy. So, use that Christmas spirit for physical health as well as mental health and get moving!
4. Learn when to say ‘no’
Lots of us find ourselves inundated with invitations leading up to Christmas and in the week before New Year’s Eve, and it is very difficult to turn them down. After all, we tell ourselves, it only happens once a year. But over-doing it with the parties can turn a chance for some well-deserved R&R into a recovery period, so you end up back at work feeling like you need another holiday. The key is to learn how to say ‘no’ to invites — not to all of them, of course; just enough to allow you to have some real down-time.
5. Drink sensibly
Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only ever temporary. Christmas parties encourage socialising and it’s very easy to get carried away but know your limits - it’s important to maintain your personal wellbeing too. Be sure to eat before you drink and alternate between glasses of water wherever you can.
6. Ask for help
At times, especially over the Christmas period we all get overwhelmed by how we feel, especially when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your friends and family are there to lean on and to support you all you have to do is ask!
7. Care for others
Present-buying is not the only way of showing that we care about others. Christmas is the perfect time to reach out to loved ones who you haven’t spent much time with in the past year and ask them how they are. Caring for others is an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can also bring you closer together and make you feel good.
8. See your GP
The Christmas period can be a stressful time of the year and many of us may experience feelings of anxiety or depression which are heightened around this time. If you have any concerns, please reach out to your GP, they are there to help and can discuss options with you including care plans for supporting you and your mental health and wellness.
How can I help a loved one?
Supporting a loved one who is experiencing holiday depression, anxiety or stress can be difficult. You may not understand why your loved one feels or acts a certain way. Some people who experience this feel like they have to do things a certain way or avoid things or situations, and this can create frustration or conflict with others. You may feel pressured to take part in these behaviours or adjust your own behaviours to protect or avoid upsetting a loved one.
Here are some general tips:
Ask your loved one how you can help them.
Be patient—learning and practising new coping strategies takes time.
If your loved one is learning new skills, offer to help them practice.
Listen and offer support but avoid pushing unwanted advice.
Set boundaries and seek support for yourself, if needed.
Our friendly, caring and experienced ‘high quality health care’ team are open over the festive season and we wish you all a merry Christmas and a safe, happy and of course HEALTHY New Year!