Experts are encouraging everyone to safeguard their mental health and wellbeing this Christmas.
The festive season can be particularly busy, so ²gether NHS Foundation Trust is offering some useful tips and advice to help combat the stresses and strains the season might bring.
Consultant Clinical Psychologist Alison Sedgwick-Taylor, of the Trust’s Let’s Talk service, said: “For those of us who celebrate it, Christmas is often thought of as being a time for enjoyment and getting together with family and friends.
“It’s sometimes easy to forget that it can also be a very demanding time. It can be stressful as it involves a lot of expectation, expense and organisation.
“Some people find it lonely and potentially a sad time if they are far away from people they miss or if their loved ones are no longer alive.
“We want people to be able to enjoy their Christmas and spend the time relaxing and resting, and we hope our advice may make that a bit more possible. There is, however, also support available if you are struggling with your mental health.”
Tips and advice from Let’s Talk include:
- Be realistic about what can be achieved and afforded. Don’t aim for perfection and be disappointed.
- Share the work out. Don’t take on every responsibility, such as shopping, cooking and coordinating engagements just because you always do. Ask someone else to help you out – people are often grateful to be asked.
- Plan in advance. List making is an age old tactic, but it really works, and don’t leave everything until the last minute.
- Make sure you get plenty of fresh air and exercise. Both are scientifically proven to improve mental health and wellbeing.
- Don’t drink to excess. Alcohol can make you act in a way you might regret, and it can also have a depressive affect.
- Try not to spend too much money. Gifts are not the most important part of Christmas and you may be storing up problems for the future if you get yourself into debt.
- Help other people. Helping and giving to others will benefit the recipient of the help as well as yourself.
- Take a break. If the family is getting too much, take a break, a spot of meditation or a walk in fresh air will help. Try to not let tensions mount up.
- Be sure to check up on family and friends – particularly the elderly and vulnerable. Loneliness can be a particular issue over Christmas, so try and make sure no one spends the whole time without visitors or company.
- Get enough sleep. A good sleep pattern can help you maintain good mental health and make you feel more alert and able to cope better with stress.
- Try to spend some time relaxing. Remember to rest, spend some time just ‘being’ and take a break from ‘doing’.
If you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed leading up to, or after the Xmas break, you can contact our Let’s Talk service on 0800 073 2200 or visit the Let's Talk website here. If you have serious concerns about your mental health, speak to your GP who can help and/or make an appropriate referral to services in your area.
The Samaritans anticipate an increase in calls around Christmas each year. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via 116 123. Do not hesitate to call them if you need support.