12 tips to look after your mental health this Christmas time

It’s not long now until Christmas Day but for most of us it will be a little different this year, and whilst traditionally seen as the most wonderful time of the year, it’s ok to feel overwhelmed and struggle to get into the Christmas spirit. Especially this year, with the inability to make plans to see loved ones as much as we might like due to the pandemic. In this blog we have put together some tips to help get into the festivities of Christmas, and for better mental health and wellbeing this December:

Christmas and mental health

1. Maintain a routine – It can be harder to wake up and stick to your routine during winter due to the dark mornings and feeling cosy under your duvet. Try your best to stick to a regular routine especially if you’re still working from home.

2. Make a list, check it twice – Create your own Christmas agenda to make sure that you balance your social commitments and self-care. Make sure you have outlined your boundaries and think about what will make you happy this year. Make time to do something you enjoy like watching a film or reading a book and set short-term realistic expectations. Do you usually have access to a mental health service which closes over the Christmas period? Ensure you have a plan in place in case you need help.

3. Help the community – Get involved by volunteering or donating gifts and food to help spread the Christmas joy. Organisations such as Salvation Army and Crisis support thousands of homeless individuals and need help providing food, gifts and emotional support. You can even help your local food bank.

4. Selfcare – Having a time-out helps to prevent stress and maintain performance throughout the day. It is essential for us to take a break whether it be from work, family, friends or Christmas to make sure we don’t start to feel overwhelmed. Self-compassion is good for your mental health, it’s ok to be kind to yourself and give you a treat from you. To read more about how you can incorporate self-care into your daily routine click here.

5. Create a Christmas playlistStudies show that music releases dopamine (the feel-good chemical in our brain). Listening to music can reduce depression and stress, boost our mood, help us to sleep better, as well as improve our motivation and memory.

6. Make time for sleep – Sleep is an essential component to not only positive mental health but also our physical health. Make sure it is still a top priority, remember tip 1! To read more about the importance of sleep click here.

7. Avoid unhealthy comparisons and expectations – It is easy to get carried away with what everyone else is doing (or buying!). Avoid unhealthy comparisons, this year it may be tempting to overcompensate as things will be different, but it’s important to manage your money and gift giving, you can find free advice if you are struggling here.

8. Pull out your chef hat and apron – Cooking is a good way to boost our creativity and leaves us feeling a sense of accomplishment once we complete the dish! What we eat can impact how we feel so make sure to enjoy festive food and drink in moderation. Over-indulging can make us feel sluggish and sometimes maybe a little bit guilty! Try this recipe for gingerbread people.

9. Connect with others – Spend time with your family and friends, close and positive relationships help us to feel like we have a purpose and sense of belonging. COVID-19 may make it more difficult for us to see our loved ones, but with the power of technology we can stay connected. If you are struggling it is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling. You can ‘find a friend’ through The Cares Family. If you need someone to talk to at any time of the day, you can call Samaritans for free on 116 123.

10. Winter walk – A winter walk is a nice way to boost your mood as well as getting in some daily exercise. Walking is the easiest way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine and is good for our mental and physical health. To read more about how exercise improves your mental health click here.

11. Make decorations – Arts and crafts can help reduce anxiety and depression and has a positive impact on our mental health. It is also a great way to make Christmas decorations. Try some at home DIY Christmas decorations this year, click here for some inspiration.

12. Have mindful moments – Paying attention to the present can improve our mental wellbeing. Mindfulness helps us reconnect with ourselves and connects us to our thoughts and feelings. Take time each day to think of the positive aspects of your life. Meditation, mindfulness apps such as ‘CALM’, yoga and breathing exercises can all be used for relaxation and reconnecting to the present moment.

Mental health is never straight forward, and our mental health problems don’t just go away for Christmas, for some people Christmas time can even be a trigger, but we can try to maintain an element of control at times when we feel overwhelmed and emotional.

We hope you have a lovely Christmas and remember there are still support services open over the festive period, please reach out if you are struggling.

 

More Christmas activities

Click here for a full list of Christmas recipes

Click here to see the top 20 Christmas films

Click here to download your free positive mental health Christmas holiday planner

Click here for crafty templates from Mind the mental health charity

 

Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash.

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