Mental health is important at any time of the year but especially at Christmas. I know that I touched on this subject before, but I just wanted to discuss it in further detail.
I remember having a great Christmas day at mums house a few years ago. It was a lovely day, filled with all the things you expect at Christmas – love, happiness, excitement, joy, food (so much food). But when the evening hit, and it was time to fall into bed, my anxiety hit me hard, and I started having a panic attack. It was a shock! Doesn’t my anxiety know that it’s Christmas day? But that’s just the thing; mental health problems do not care what day it is.
The lead up to Christmas
In the lead up to Christmas, we tend to burn the candle at both ends with all the parties and festivities. We have so much else on our minds, too – money, presents, food, etc. that our mental health can take a bit of a back seat;
‘I don’t have time to do my meditation; Christmas presents need wrapping.’
‘Oh, go on then, I’ll have another drink; it’s Christmas!’
‘Urgh, I’m not going for my walk today; it’s too cold.’
‘Yes, please, I’d love another chocolate. 648 hasn’t quite hit the spot.’
For me, it’s only when I stop – like when I went to bed on that Christmas day – that my mind has a chance to catch up, and that’s when my anxiety hits.
Everyone is different, though; you might find that your anxiety spins out of control because you have so much to do that it all gets too much for you.
Look after Yourself
So, this Christmas period, I’m reminding you to look after yourself:
- It’s okay to say no to that party invite. Don’t feel bad about staying at home, getting your pyjamas on and having a cup of tea and an early night.
- Don’t feel like you have to do everything – delegate! Ask for help! Read my post How to avoid stress at Christmas Time for some tips.
- Carry on doing the things that are important for looking after your mental health, whether that’s going for a walk, doing meditation, having a bath, watching a film etc.
- Make sure that you make time for yourself. You’ll never have time if you don’t make time.
- If your friends and family are aware that you suffer from mental health issues, maybe let them know that you are struggling at the moment. That way, if you need to leave the festivities early, they’ll understand.
- The Mental Health Foundation also has some great tips on how to look after your mental wellbeing this Christmas.
Now I’m not saying you can’t have fun, but maybe take a step back and evaluate the situation; do you really need another drink? Do you really need to eat the whole tub of Pringles? Can you cope with another late night?
Don’t feel like you have to put on a happy face. If you are struggling, speak out. Anxiety and depression don’t take holidays, unfortunately. Like I said above, mental health problems don’t care what day it is!
Remember, it’s okay to not feel festive and overjoyed about Christmas. It gets so built up, and there is so much pressure to have the most fantastic day ever. If it gets too much on the day itself, give yourself 10-15 minutes of peace and quiet, away from everything. Maybe take a short walk around the block or take yourself upstairs for a few moments. It’s okay to have fun at Christmas and let loose, but it’s essential to make sure that you’re looking after yourself too.
And if you find that you are struggling with your mental health this Christmas, don’t wait until the New Year. You can call the Samaritans on 116 123. They’re open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You don’t have to suffer in silence.