Christmas is supposed to be one of the most joyous and happy occasions of the calendar year. For many, it can be the most stressful, with those experiencing mental health issues often finding it particularly difficult.
Circumstances like family tension, excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, loneliness, isolation, and money worries, can come into play and cause heightened stress. Managing this stress effectively and focussing on finding balance this Christmas is important.
In the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas, check out these 12 Tips for a Mentally Healthy Christmas:
1. Stick to your budget: Planning ahead and sticking to your budget will ease the financial stress at Christmas, and alleviate financial issues in the New Year.
2. Set boundaries: Make plans and set boundaries, whether this is on the money you spend, the tasks you take on, or the parties you attend – whatever helps reduce the stress you face during this silly season.
3. Don’t shop til you drop: Avoid the crowds and the stress of finding a car park! Try shopping online, or schedule your shopping when it will be less busy.
4. Avoid the pressure cooker: Cooking can be stressful enough, let alone for large numbers of family and friends when you really want to impress. Delegate guests to help you prepare lunch or dinner, or ask them to bring a plate which also helps you share the expense and hard work.
5. Manage your expectations: Christmas tends to shine a light on the stresses and cracks that already exist in relationships. So try and accept this, and be mindful of the triggers that can cause arguments or tension. Relaxation techniques can also be beneficial for you to help manage your feelings and anxiety.
6. Everything in moderation Yes it’s the season to be jolly, but overdoing it, especially with alcohol, can negatively impact on your health and wellbeing. Try to choose fresh fruit and vegetables wherever you can, and limit the amount of alcohol you consume over the festive period.
7. Get out and about Keeping up your regular exercise routine – or taking advantage of your holiday time will help boost your serotonin levels and reduce stress. Plus it helps to walk off the calories if you did enjoy that second mince pie!
8. Don’t overdo it Lack of sleep, or doing too much, can often be a trigger for anxiety and depression. So try and get a good night’s sleep, and schedule some ‘me time’ for yourself during the holiday period. Be kind to yourself.
9. Don’t be a stranger Don’t isolate yourself from the people who care about you, even if the last thing you feel like doing is socialising.
If you think you’re going to be alone at Christmas, make it a priority to reach out to your friends and family by phone, email or social media. There are many great organisations who host events on Christmas Day, which you’re very welcome to enjoy as a guest or as a volunteer.
10. Look back – and look forward The end of a year can bring mixed emotions, particularly if you’ve experienced difficult or disappointing times. If this does cause you distress, try to focus on the positive outcomes of the past 12 months, and view the new year as a fresh start and chance to make the changes you desire.
11. Pay it forward Giving to others – whether this is looking out for a neighbour on their own, volunteering, or a random act of kindness – is a known way to improve your mental health, and will lift spirits especially at this time of year.
12. You’re not alone It’s important to remember that there are many, many support organisations who are still there for you over the holiday period. Remember to check in regularly with your Psychiatrist, Psychologists and loved ones. If you find yourself or anyone you know that's in crisis or need someone to talk to, Belmont is here for you.
We have a range of specialised programs, treatment options and mental health professionals who can help. Click here to view our specialty services.
Our Day Patient Programs will also be available over the Christmas period. To learn more about our Day Patient Programs and admittance process, please click here.
For further assistance, please phone Belmont Therapy Programs on 07 3398 0270 or email us.
From everyone here at Belmont Private Hospital, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and happy and safe New Year.