In a period, that seems to be on fast-forward, it is so important that we take some time to look after our wellbeing. Whilst, it is of course important to do this every day, I find it becomes much harder to do so during the festive period. With the cold, dark, miserable weather being matched with the fast-paced planning for Christmas, we can often get caught up in everything going on and become neglectful to our own self-care. There is so much pressure put on us this time of the year, we 'should' have everything organised, cards written, gifts wrapped, and we should be happy - because 'tis the season to be jolly' right? No. Tis the season to feel whatever you feel, and for those emotions to be validated because human emotions are far more complex than that.
So how can we look after ourselves over the festive season? Here are 10 tips for managing your mental health during the holidays.
It is okay to admit that you are struggling and that you are not okay. Nobody is expected to be okay 100% of the time, and although it may seem as though the rest of the world is in this huge 'Happy Festive Bubble', that is not the case and you are not alone in your struggles. It is sadly very common to be experiencing increased stresses over this time.
2. Take a break
Give yourself time to take a moment to yourself. The run up to Christmas, buying presents, writing cards, wrapping presents, sending cards, buying food, buying drinks, cooking food, serving drinks.... it is hard work... but what will make it even harder is not allowing yourself a break, you will end up overworking yourself and becoming run down and flagging before Christmas arrives. On Christmas, I don't know about you guys, but my house is... well chaotic to say the least, presents everywhere, gift wrappers all over the place, food and drinks on every table, all the family visiting. It is okay to take yourself away, go to a quite room for a bit, you don't have to be in the 'centre' of all the goings on for the entire day.
Do I really need to give an explanation to this one? Pyjamas are awesome okay, they are like clothes (okay they are technically clothes), but more comfy, cosy and relaxing! Allow yourself to feel relaxed and dare I say it be a couch potato (for a bit, don't get too comfortable in one position).
4. Fresh air
Had your Christmas dinner? If you are able to, why don't you go outside, as short or as long as you'd like. Good to walk off all that turkey, and getting outside can provide some much needed calmness! Please dress for the weather, do not want to be blamed for any hypothermia (although maybe the above tip could come in handy here - I think my neighbours are past the point of judging me for being outside in my PJs).
5. Try not to compare yourself
Ah the good old media spreading the Christmas 'message'! Not just films and TV shows, but social media too often depicts everyone to be having incredibly wonderful and happy Christmas surrounded by loved ones. Please remember that what is published online is simply what that person is allowing you to see, this may not paint the whole picture, I mean it might well do, in which great you go Glen Coco. Please do not compare yourself to others and do not compare your Christmas experience to that of others. We are all unique and that is what makes us special.
Get yourself to bed early Christmas Eve, Christmas Day is likely to be a long and tiring one and for those with or living with young children you will know that a nice lay in will not be part of your Christmas Day because there is too much excitement of what Santa has left. If you need a little power nap in the day, you blooming well have that power nap, I undoubtably will be!
7. Treat yourself
YOU'VE SPENT HOW MUCH?!?!? - A direct quote taken from my bank account to me. I am sure there are many of you in the same boat, realising how much you've spent over Christmas. How many of you though have brought yourself a little gift? I'm not talking about buying a car here, something simple maybe a nice face mask, your favourite chocolate, a dvd to watch? You have probably brought presents for family and friends but not worried about yourself. Go out and treat yourself.
8. Limit Alcohol
The holidays bring along a lot of celebratory spirit (and spirits). This time of year tends to involve a lot of 'social drinking', although you may not feel as though its an issue for you and you feel more comfortable and relaxed after a glass or two it is important to remember that alcohol is a depressant and drinking in excess can cause low mood, irritability and behaviour changes. Drink safely this Christmas if you choose to drink. Also, just a quick reminder, that some people don't drink, so if someone says 'no thank you' or tells you that they don't drink, don't respond with 'but it's Christmas, just one', instead ask them what they would like instead.
There are plenty of volunteering opportunities out there and Christmas is a great time to volunteer for a charity or local organisation. By doing do you will be providing essential support and encouragement to others in need. Helping others is also known to be good for your own mental health and wellbeing, reducing stress, improving mood, increasing self-esteem and happiness and in some cases even benefits your physical health!
10. Learn to say “No” or “Yes” more often and let go.
Vocalise your needs. Which leads me to the final point. Don't try and do everything and please everyone, you need to be your priority. Put yourself and your own wellbeing first. Please do not stretch yourself so thin that you have nothing left for yourself. You are important.
I hope you all have a holiday season full of self-care, let me know your tips for looking after your wellbeing during the Christmas period!