Whether or not Christmas is part of your life, your mental health might be affected by it happening around you. It's a time of year that often puts extra pressure on us and can affect our mental health in lots of different ways. People expect Christmas to be a time of celebration, eating, drinking, spending time with family and friends, and generally enjoying the festive spirit. Especially if we are to believe all the stunning images on our social media feeds. However, for many the festive season can be an especially difficult time.
Whether it’s the financial strain that accompanies gift buying, spending Christmas alone, the strain of managing difficult relationships, or a mental health issue - there can be a number of triggers for mental health problems during the holiday season. If you celebrate other religious festivals or holidays, you may feel overlooked.
First of all, it’s important to recognise that if you’re struggling over the Christmas period, you are far from alone. Everything seems to be heightened and more intense at Christmas – from the music and lights to the traffic and crowds. All of the above is daunting for most people, but can be even more intense if you struggle with anxiety, depression or any other mental ill-health . There’s no doubt about it; Christmas can be stressful. Cooking, buying presents, keeping children entertained, decorating your home, cleaning up after family gatherings – the list of tasks is endless. For people who struggle with chronic stress, this time of year can be overwhelming and exhausting.
There’s also the added pressure of financial worries and feelings of guilt if you can’t afford to buy your children or loved ones the presents that they really want. Christmas also comes at the end of the year, so if you’ve had an especially difficult one, perhaps with the loss of a loved one, a job or other financial difficulties throughout the year, this may have added further pressure to the idea of buying presents.
Here are a few self-care tips to help you (or someone you know) through the festive season:
Start a daily gratitude journal: Write down three things in your life that you are grateful for or happy about. Focusing on the positives can help to lift your mood and put you on course for a more positive mind set.
Help a mate or volunteer at one of the many local community organisations. You will be amazed at how good this will make you feel.
Make some simple plans to catch up with someone or a couple of people you enjoy being with. Connection is really important and however small, every small effort will pay dividends to our wellbeing.
On that, prioritise your well-being and look for any way to make this time more bearable. Baths, walks, journalling all help.
Reach out and ask for help. It can be someone you know in real life or a trusted online community or any one of the resources you can find on this page.
Be kind to yourself. Try not to isolate yourself for the whole time but know that it’s ok to put yourself first. Don’t feel like you have to do all that is traditionally expected of you
GP down south is an exemplary not-for-profit community organisation. We have been providing health and wellbeing services in the Peel regions and the South West of WA since 1994.