Ladies and gentlemen, the Christmas period is upon us yet again. For most people this is a season of love and celebration- it’s one filled with eating, drinking, partying and spending quality time with loved ones .
But for some people Christmas is anything but jolly, rather it serves as a trigger for the mental health issues they’ve dealt with or have been dealing with throughout the year. In this post I’ll outline how Christmas can negatively affect your mental health and how to deal with it.
1)Christmas and stress.
Christmas can be a rather stressful period from cooking and making preparations to buying presents and planning events. If not death with one’s Christmas spirit can be overshadowed and overwhelmed by the stress of making each and everything perfect. Stress doesn’t only apply to planning the perfect Christmas but also when one is unable to create a “perfect” Christmas due to financial constraints.
The feeling of not able to get your kids the gifts and Christmas they want or deserve can weigh heavily on any parent or guardian. Not being able to go on that vacation you’ve always wanted or being forced to visit / spend time with toxic friends or family as well as the excess expectations and demands of the season can all act as catalysts for stress.
Tips to avoid stress:
- Take a break- when you begin to feel stressed take some time out- go take a walk,do some meditation or yoga, grab a cup of coffee, read a book or just listen to some music. Anything to bring you back to a state of calm do it! If you don’t have time to take a break due to your commitments then plan ahead and arrange with someone to take up your responsibilities for a while. As you plan your holiday calendar include a day(s) for your ME-TIME.
- Say NO: Learn to say no during this time especially to activities or events that are bound to be stressful. Avoid spreading yourself too thin to prevent burnout. This can be especially hard to do if you feel obligated to be present at certain events or parties-but realize that you’ve a greater obligation to yourself. So setting limits for yourself and sticking to it is an important way to declutter your mind and improve your well-being.
- Let go of the idea of “perfection”: the need to create a perfect Christmas is most times borne out of comparisons drawn from other people around you or on social media. Avoid this comparisons so you don’t have to feel like a failure for not having the food or decorations, rather create a Christmas for you and your family no matter how small. Stick to your financial budget and get things well within your finances- don’t feel the need to go overboard just to impress others. The only person worth impressing this holiday is YOURSELF. Avoid the whole hype and spend time off social media.
Christmas and depression.
Many of us suffering from depression would understand how challenging it could be to have to put up a “happy front” when everyone around you seems to be enjoying themselves. During this Christmas season it’s most times inevitable to be overwhelmed by the feelings of happiness and joy others might show, and it can be hard especially while dealing with your own depressive thoughts.
This can cause one to become withdrawn and isolated from others during this period and this can be quite hard to do in such season filled with different events and parties. But irrespective of this it is important to be kind to yourself and learn to balance your social or family obligation with your need for self care. Don’t let others feelings of those around you feel even worse about yourself or your condition.
Tips to deal with depression during the Christmas period.
- Find ways to occupy yourself: in cases where you might not have family or partner close by the holidays can be lonely and hard. But in such cases it’s best to keep yourself occupied by either volunteering or participating in activities in your community. Get yourself out there and try attending social events with close friends or people you’re comfortable with. Do things you enjoy and lose yourself in them
- Don’t binge on alcohol, drugs or food: though it might provide a temporary relief, there’s every probability you would feel even worse in the long term. Avoid over-indulgence!!!
- Talk about your feelings: talking about your feelings,problems or worries with someone you trust can make you feel better and make things a lot easier for you.
- Accept who you are and don’t feel under pressure to go above your limits. Protect yourself and mental health first!!!
- Don’t feel guilty : in cases where you’re depressed due to the loss of a loved one or if you’re bereaved, it’s normal to feel guilty for being happy during the holiday season but that shouldn’t be. Always remember being happy isn’t disrespectful to the person’s memory, as shedding a tear is also as important as smiling. It’s also normal to feel sad and don’t be ashamed to admit to yourself and others that you miss your loved one.
Christmas and anxiety.
If you suffer from chronic anxiety or anxiety disorder then the Christmas season can be quite overwhelming and intense from increased crowds and traffic to increased expectations and demands. During festive seasons there’s a probability of increased panic and anxiety attacks due to increased worries and activities going on around you which can serve as triggers.
Tips to deal with anxiety during the Christmas period.
- Rest: when you begin to feel overwhelmed, take a step back from it all and rest. You could take a nap, go for a walk or listen to good music, do anything that keeps you calm. Just relax, as tiredness can also leave you unable to cope.
- Have a plan: put a plan in place in case your anxiety peaks, talk to a friend before hand if possible. So that you can have a trusted person to get you through in case of a panic attack. Put in place things to help distract yourself in case you feel an attack approaching.
- Don’t over-do it: don’t be forced or pressured into taking parts in events or traditions that could trigger your anxiety. Be careful with the amount of alcohol you take in as alcohol has been known to be a depressant and can negatively affect your mental health and mood. Relax and keep calm through it all!
- Breathe: breathing in and out rhythmically can help bring you to a state of calm when the feelings of anxiety spring up.
Finally, Christmas can be quite overwhelming and exhausting for every single one of us but when it begins to leave a negative impact on your mental and physical health then there’s a problem. Please reach out for help, there’s nothing to feel or be ashamed of.
Wishing all my readers a beautiful and stress-free Christmas holidays and a happy new year in advance. 💕