Mental health experts are encouraging everyone to safeguard their mental health and wellbeing this Christmas.
The festive season can be a particularly busy time, so ²gether NHS Foundation Trust is offering some useful tips and advice to help combat the stresses and strains the season brings.
Consultant Clinical Psychologist Alison Sedgwick-Taylor, of the Trust’s Let’s Talk service, said: “For those of us who celebrate Christmas, this can be a particularly demanding time of year.
We like to think of Christmas as being a time for enjoyment and getting together with family and friends, but it can be stressful, lonely and for others involves a lot of expectation, work, shopping, organisation and juggling of commitments.
“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 at what is a particularly hard time for many.”
Tips and advice from Let’s Talk include:
· Be realistic about what can be achieved and afforded. Don’t aim for perfection and get 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. 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 walk in the fresh air. 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 relax. Remember what is really important is spending time with the people you love and care about.
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 www.talk²gether.nhs.uk.
The Samaritans anticipate an increase in calls around Christmas each year. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via 08457 90 90 90. Do not hesitate to call them if you need support.