How to look after your mental health over the Christmas period

How to look after your mental health over the Christmas period

Don't feel bad about putting yourself first...

Blogger Beth Sandland shares her tips for looking after yourself over the festive period...

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can be the toughest too.

Short, dark days, too much boozing, family pressures and the looking back on another year passed can make the festive period something of a mental health minefield. It’s no wonder that by the time we reach January, most of us stumble into the New Year bleary eyed, broke and smelling like week old roast potatoes.

It is absolutely possible, however, to navigate the festive period and have a great time whilst preserving your sanity too.

Read on for some tips on how to protect your mental health over the festive period...

1. Don’t spend money you don't have

Christmas is not worth getting into debt over, and anyone you’re close enough to partake in gift-giving with definitely wouldn't want you to put yourself in the red for it either. Don’t get caught in the trap of obligation spending (e.g. buying a present for your aunt’s cat just because you feel like you have to!), and feeling the pressure to spend more than you can afford. Trim down your ‘to buy for' list, and try to set spend limits where possible. If you're really worried about overstretching yourself financially it's worth talking to the people in question and seeing if they mind skipping gifts this year - they’ll probably be relieved they don't have to buy for you either!


2. You don't have to see people just because it's Christmas

It’s true, Christmas is a wonderful time for love and forgiveness, but that comes with a caveat. If you haven't seen someone for the rest of the year there’s probably a good reason! Don’t force yourself to spend time with people who bring negativity in to your life, and definitely don’t feel the pressure to rekindle toxic relationships just because of the season.


3. Know that it's OK to indulge

Don’t guilt trip yourself for enjoying that slice of yule log or for drinking Bailey’s for breakfast for a week. Sure, chances are you’re probably not living your healthiest life over the festive period, but a bit of indulgence isn't going to do you any harm and you definitely shouldn't beat yourself up for having a good time.


4. But know it's OK to say 'no' too

If you don't want a glass of champagne at 10am just because it’s December or another one of auntie Mildred’s dryer-than-the-desert mince pies you are not a spoil sport. Don’t feel peer-pressured into eating and drinking anything that you don't want to. It can be really hard to say no when there’s candy everywhere you turn and festive drinks after work every night of the week, but you are in charge of your own body.


5. Make the most of the festivities

If you’re really not a winter person it can be hard to throw yourself into the festivities, but the reality is, you will feel better about life if you make the effort to join in some of the fun (definitely don't feel pressured to do everything all the time though!). There are lots of amazing things to do throughout the holiday period, so have a think about which activities you will actually enjoy, and make some plans to do them. Whether you go ice skating, hunt for the best lights in your neighbourhood, cry over the John Lewis advert, bake gingerbread and then eat it snuggled on the sofa in front of Home Alone or Elf, there's sure to be a festive activity that'll bring you joy. 


6. But Take Time For Yourself too

Just as you don't have to spend time with people you don't like, you don't have to spend all your time with the people you do either! Let’s face it, there’s no other time of the year when you’d see so much of your family or friends, and as much as you may love them, it can get a little draining too. Christmas might be a time for giving, but there’s nothing wrong with scheduling in some ‘me time’, whether that means sloping off for a hot bath after dinner or heading to your room to read a book for an hour. 

For expert advice on looking after your mental health, contact Mind or The Samaritans