Looking After Your Mental Health at Christmas

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Christmas is the time of year that many people look forward to, but a lot of people approach it with a sense of dread. Some even feel both ways about it simultaneously – they can’t help looking forward to the season but fear the things that may happen during it.

The weather is cold, the nights are dark, and it can be a time when even the strongest people have to battle against mental health issues. You can only be so strong, and everyone has a breaking point, so have a read through these tips to help you have the best Christmas possible.

People – meeting up

It is easy to become isolated at Christmas, and isolation can very quickly work against you. The mental self-talk you engage in will have a dramatic effect on your mood and your mental wellbeing. (1)

Your mind has a natural instinct to anticipate and prepare for the worst (even if you consider yourself an optimist) and has no problem casting doubts on every idea and plan you have. If the only feedback you get on your situation is from your own mind, you can quickly enter a downward spiral towards depression. (2)

By meeting up with people you know and love over the Christmas period, you can engage in conversations that aren’t just focused on you. You’ll be able to see that your situation isn’t as bad as you might imagine, and that there are people out there who care for you.

People – keeping away

Of course, there may be family or work get-togethers that you are expected to attend, and you really don’t want to. One of the most common reasons for this is that you feel you don’t get on with that particular set of people – but the problem is a Christmas gathering can often unintentionally be a high-pressure environment.

Everybody expects everyone else to be nice and have fun, and it just isn’t possible. Because of this, arguments are prone to breaking out, and often over silly things that would be of no consequence at any other time of the year. 

The solution? Don’t rise to it.

Simply walking away from arguments will stop any escalation. Leave it. Don’t fight against it. Opinions are not truth, and so whatever anyone says at Christmas is just their opinion – you know your own truth.

And there are certain external factors that may affect how people behave and the opinions they wish to express…

Watch what you eat…and drink

Christmas can be a time for over-indulging. Eating too much food will certainly have a negative effect on the way that your body (and brain) functions and may cause you to slip into thought patterns that are less than positive. (3)

However, eating too much will usually only affect you – drinking too much can affect those around you too. When alcohol is involved, opinions can be more widely shared than would be normally socially acceptable, and more importantly they don’t always represent what the person in question truly believes.

It’s not something that’s hiding inside and only revealed when they are drunk, it’s just the ramblings of an inebriated brain that isn’t functioning properly. This can start arguments, cause offence, and generally ruin the atmosphere for everyone else.

If you’re the one that is drinking, take it very carefully – alcohol is known to have a long-lasting effect on mental wellbeing.

Relax…but keep active!

Christmas is an ideal time for taking a break and relaxing, recharging your batteries for the upcoming year. It’s great to catch up with people during this period but setting yourself a hectic schedule isn’t ideal – take some time to just sit and relax. 

Evaluate your year, make plans for next year. Enjoy this downtime.

Spending too much time doing nothing won’t help your mind stay on track, though. Physical exercise, for example something as simple as taking a walk, can work wonders for soothing your mind. (4) You might want to try re-engaging with hobbies that you haven’t had time to pursue.

When your mind is full of nothingness, it will find things to worry about. By keeping yourself pleasantly occupied you’ll be able to prevent this.

Ask for Help

Talking about your feelings to a sympathetic friend or family member can help you feel better. It will improve your mood by just allowing you to get everything out in the open – bottling up your emotions and trying to deal with everything yourself is a recipe for disaster.

Your friend may be able to offer a different perspective, or perhaps be able to help you in a particular situation. Even if all they do is listen to what you have to say, you know your voice has been heard, and you will begin to realise you are not on your own in all of this.

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If you can’t ask friends or family for help, there are several charities you can get in touch with. Here are a few:

Mind – 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 - https://www.mind.org.uk/ 

Mental Health Foundation - 020 7803 1101 - http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/ 

Together - 020 7780 7300 - http://www.together-uk.org/ 

The Centre for Mental Health - 020 7827 8300 - http://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/ 

🎄Wishing you a Merry Christmas from the team at Apothecary 27 🎄

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/self-talk

  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/unconscious-branding/201705/why-negative-thoughts-are-normal

  3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/42225775/christmas-party-season-why-my-anxiety-gets-worse-after-drinking

  4. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/safe-winter-exercise/