12 Tips of Christmas
All is calm, all is bright… right?
Well, not always. Some of us struggle at this time of year, whether it’s caused by the pressure to socialise and appear cheerful, concerns about food or finances, or we’re missing someone special or feeling lonely.
Here, we share our 12 tips of Christmas – some simple ways to look after mental health for ourselves and those around us this festive season.
1. Give ourselves time
If we have a busy schedule, or a busy household, we need to set aside some time for ourselves. This could be an ‘evening off’ with a film and bath or going for a refreshing trip outdoors on our own. A bit of Privacy can give relief from busy days.
2. Acknowledge what might cause stress
For example, if we are managing an eating disorder, then not knowing the schedule of the day or what the meal will be could get in the way of meeting our Emotional Needs for Control and Security. Asking the host about the plan for the day and letting them know how they can support us is one practical way to give ourselves a bit more control and security.
3. Have a routine
Of course, for many of us the Christmas period is a change to our normal day-to-day activities. However, keeping a bit of routine can support our mental health, just as going to bed and getting up at regular times helps us to get better sleep.
4. Seek company if we need it
Christmas can be a lonely time for many people for so many reasons. If we we want company, there are options. Local pubs, cafes, libraries and charity organisations host community Christmases, or will open for a couple of hours extra on festive days. Look out for these events being promoted nearby. Alternatively, many charities are looking for volunteers at this time of year – perhaps we can donate our time and, in turn, meet new people.
5. Try not to overspend
No one needs ‘five gold rings’ at Christmas. Let’s avoid going into debt just to show people how much we love them. Finances can affect our needs for control and security, so keeping to a budget can help us to meet these needs.
6. Stop scrolling
Or, at least try to limit the amount of attention we give to our phones this Christmas.
If we’re visiting people, then let’s use our phone for photos only – and give our family and friends the present of our attention instead. When we’re at home and scrolling social media, we should remember that people are posting their highlights, not everything else between.
7. Give a gift
Not a gift from the shops, but the gift of quality attention. Giving and receiving Attention is an important emotional need which shapes our relationships. Really listening to someone and reflecting a little of what they’ve said back to them helps them to feel heard.
8. It’s OK not to feel festive
Not all of us are full of Christmas spirit. If we’re feeling low this December or missing someone, we can try to focus on the parts of Christmas we do enjoy. This might be decorating the house, the old films on repeat, the Christmas lights as you travel at night, sending cards and presents to loved ones, the Christmas songs, singing carols, etc.
9. If we’re working or volunteering this Christmas, remember our meaning and purpose
Some of us may be working or volunteering at Christmastime – such as in a hospital, at a soup kitchen, or in retail for the Boxing Day sales – and we may miss the odd event or family gathering. Let’s try to keep the Meaning & Purpose of our work in mind. Meeting our need for meaning and purpose will help us feel part of something bigger than ourselves, and provides us with resilience through tough times. It can also protect against mental ill-health.
10. Make new memories or traditions
Some of us are facing our first Christmas apart from our family. This could be due to a split, or it’s the first year without someone we love. Or, maybe our children have grown up and are spending Christmas with other people. Whatever our circumstances, consider sowing the seeds of a new tradition. Choose to eat a different meal, or go for a walk somewhere different, or have ‘Christmas Day’ on a different day. We can get creative to make this time work for us.
11. Feeling overwhelmed? Movement can help change our environment
Moving our body burns the stress hormone cortisol, and fills us with feel-good endorphins. We could take the dog out, or go outside by ourselves for a while to be somewhere different. If we can, it’s good for us to take some time away from the hustle and bustle of the festivities. Even reading a new book, doing a puzzle, or volunteering to do the washing up while everyone else settles down in front of the TV can do the trick.
12. Remember: everyone’s Christmas looks different
No one’s Christmas is perfect, and it’s all over before you know it. If you’re feeling low or not looking forward to Christmas, remember this is all temporary. We can find something (it doesn’t have to be much), that brings us joy or comfort this festive season, and try to focus on that.
More support for you this Christmas
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