Take care of your mental health this Christmas

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‘Tis the season to be jolly, but for many people it’s also a time of significant stress and struggle.

Christmas time can be triggering for many people who have mental health conditions, due to financial stress, invitations to social engagements, fear of being alone and the pressure of living up to expectations.

Here’s a gift from our team of psychologists to help you look after your mental health this Christmas.

Memories are more important than gifts

Remember this Christmas that it’s not what is under the tree that matters but who is around it. The holiday season does shine a magnifying glass on your well-being, your support network and the meaning and value you attach to your life.

Christmas is not bought in a store. Spend time creating memories. Children aren’t going to remember the expensive gifts they received growing up, rather the time they spent with you.

If you are more fortunate than others build a longer table, not a taller fence. When you find yourself thinking of the things you don’t have, take a minute to list the things you are grateful for and decide to help someone less fortunate this Christmas.

Giving a present such as a handbag full of essentials for a homeless woman or a new school bag with school supplies for a less fortunate child is a way to give back and appreciate the things you have.

Lower your expectations and open yourself up to enjoying the moments and simple things. Make a ginger bread house with your kids or make your own decorations. Buy an experience and not more clutter. A life full of moments is much lighter than ones filled with debt, stress and anxiety.

Fighting loneliness this Christmas

Loneliness is a fundamental human fear and something that rears its ugly head around the festive season. Use this time to reach out – pick up the phone and take time to call that friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, call your family members that you don’t see often and use the time to rekindle connections.
Everyone is busy with work and life and by making the first move to contact someone you will make others feel like they are important to you.

If you don’t want to be on your own over the festive season there are organisations that can connect you with other people. Remember that a lot of people are in the same situation. If you don’t have family to spend Christmas with, organise an event with other people who are in the same situation and ask everyone to bring a dish or volunteer your time to help people less fortunate.

Keep your cool with your family

When family time gets heated and difficult family members are involved, remember to be mindful of alcohol and other substances and the impact it can have on people’s judgment.

Alcohol is a depressant drug which affects co-ordination, concentration, judgment skills and slows response times, and can cause someone to do or say something they may regret later.

Set boundaries for your Christmas break. If you don’t want to go say no or set a limit on how long you will spend at an event. Create healthy boundaries to save your sanity.

When dealing with your difficult family members remember not to get your tinsel in a tangle.

Lessons from a Christmas tree:

  • Be the light in the darkness
  • We all fall over sometimes
  • You can never wear too much glitter
  • Sparkle as often as possible