ELAINE BOND: Tips to help make sure your mental health doesn’t suffer over Christmas

 ELAINE BOND: Tips to help make sure your mental health doesn’t suffer over Christmas
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I am just typing this up whilst watching the Christmas decorations being put up in the pub across the road. So, I guess Christmas is really on its way now. Christmas is supposed to be a time to share with family and friends, a celebration, and a time to treat ourselves. Then there is all the food, drink and presents.

But Mind has found that the mental health of one in ten people is affected by Christmas. There are so many reasons for this.

Overspending resulting in getting ourselves in to debt to provide the perfect Christmas, creates stress and worry about how we pay for this. We drink more alcohol, and this makes any mental heath issue worse. We over stretch ourselves by agreeing to go to parties or extra work and this creates exhaustion.

Our routines are really changed in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and people with eating disorders, alcohol issues or with obsessive tendencies are pushed out of their routine that helps to keep then in a safe place with their mental health.

Of course, Christmas brings us reminders of those people we have lost, and grief becomes acute, while we are expected to be cheerful and celebrating.

Christmas can be a time of great stress and pain if we have mental health issues and do not manage them during this period.

Don’t let your mental health suffer over Christmas

Some practical ideas as to how to look after our mental health are really simple things, like plan what you have to do well in advance, makes lists if you have to but be prepared early and tackle one thing at a time.

Make time for yourself, and don’t get swept away with everyone else’s plans and ideas of fun. Schedule time out for yourself to do what you want this Christmas. Remember to complete your basic self-care, such as taking some exercise, making sure you get some good nights sleep, getting outside and eating healthily between the big celebration meals.

Its time to be really secure about what we need to do to stay healthy mentally too. It’s time to be our own best friend this Christmas, by turning down the inner critic., Your Christmas is good enough even if it does not match what you see in the adverts on TV.

Time to be ourselves means don’t change to fit in to anyone’s Christmas, so if we are an introvert, we do not have to go to all the parties or any of the parties. If we feel sad or are grieving at Christmas, that’s ok, as we must allow ourselves to feel what we feel, and we do not have to be happy or be the life and soul of the party.

Christmas is a time for strong boundaries. We need to make sure family, in-laws or friends know what we will be doing and when, and we need to stick to our plans. Remember nothing HAS to happen over Christmas just because it’s a family tradition or because the adverts tell us it should do. We need to give ourselves permission to say no. Whatever is planned we need to have time for ourselves and we need to let friends and family know that.

Routine is often important for mental health and stability, and the next month will impact on our routines. Trying to stick to the things that work for us the best is important, so our planning needs to include our best routines. Planning to do things that are good for us mentally and physically should be a priority too.

Having things to do with people who know how we feel and are ‘good’ for us is also a good idea. Having some time with people who support us gives us something to look forward to as well. If we feel it’s going to be a real tough time, make sure you tell someone you trust to check in on you over the Christmas period.

Finally, some of us will be alone at Christmas and it can be really lonely time. We need to have a think about what we want to do before hand and that may be a good book or a movie or even a holiday. But if we want to be with people we can always volunteer for a charity and we will be with others on the big day.

Remember it is just two days of the year and they will soon pass.

Merry Christmas

Elaine Bond

Elaine Bond

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