Mental health at Christmas

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Health Assured team

24 November 2020

According to a YouGov survey, over two in five Brits have felt stressed during the festive season, while nearly one in four have struggled with anxiety or depression.

Christmas, often considered ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ is fast approaching. Under normal circumstances, it’s a cherished time of the year full of family, friends and food. While for many, it can be a difficult time of isolation and anxiety. Regardless of your outlook on Christmas, this upcoming festive season will be shrouded in uncertainty due to lockdown restrictions currently in place.

At the time of writing, many of us will likely have to adjust our Christmas plans to adhere to lockdown restrictions put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, this will likely be the root cause for potential mental health issues, for a variety of reasons. For some, they may be worried about a relative living on their own or who are high-risk (e.g. elderly family members and those vulnerable due to health conditions), for others, they may feel isolated, being unable to travel to visit their loved ones.

Advice for better mental health at Christmas

No matter your situation or festive plans, adapting to change can be difficult. So, to help you navigate through this unprecedented festive season, we have listed a few tips on how to protect your mental health during these challenging times...

  1. Plan ahead: For many of us, the peace of mind which comes with pre-planning is a reliable way to reduce stress. To avoid added pressure over the festive season during lockdown, take time now to write lists, plan timings and make sure everything is organised. Consider the added pressure that the postal service will be under and plan all your gifts and cards early.
  2. Take time out: Don’t burn out by Christmas morning. Make sure you take time to rest, recover and enjoy the festive atmosphere in a safe manner. Whether that's having a lie-in, spending a night watching your favourite Christmas film or going for a socially distanced walk outside. Time spent clearing your mind will mean you are better able to enjoy the big day!
  3. Focus on you: We spend so much time thinking of others at this time of year, we often forget to look after ourselves. Set aside some time to treat yourself! This could be something as simple as reading a good book, having a hot bath or just some quiet time alone. It’s also a good idea to get outside when you can, as daylight hours are so short.

Christmas doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’

A perfect Christmas is something many struggle to achieve—and the pursuit can often cause damage to our mental wellbeing. Due to the significant role that social media plays in our lives, there is now pressure on people to lead ‘picture-perfect’ lives, especially during the festive season. While it’s easy to get swept up in the countless images of your friends have the ‘perfect’ Christmas, remember that social media tends to present an edited portrait of real life, filtering out usual pressures we all feel during the festive season.  

If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with images of others having a perfect time, know that they may be suffering from the same stresses and pressures as you. If you need support, try reaching out to your support network. You may be surprised by how many people tell you they feel the same—and how happy to help they’ll be.

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