Look after your Mental Health at Christmas – 22/12/11

The festive period can be a very stressful and challenging time.  For some people the extra pressures of worrying about preparations, finances, relationships with family and friends added to everyday worries, can become overwhelming.  Many experience symptoms of anxiety and stress such as irritability and problems sleeping, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and feelings of panic. 

Here are some top tips for staying mentally healthy and happy throughout the holidays:

  • Shopping and preparations
    Plan ahead and write a list.  Do one thing at a time.  Don’t try to do everything yourself – ask family and friends to help.  If you feel agitated by busy shops, try and go when it’s a bit quieter.  Write a list so that you are not tempted by things you don’t need. 
  • Money
    In the current economic climate many people are experiencing financial difficulties and worries.  Try not to add to this by overspending and getting into debt.   Gifts don’t have to cost a lot of money.  A more modest gift or something you have made yourself will be appreciated just as much, if not more so for the extra thought that has gone into it. 
  • Family and Friends
    If you are aware of relationship problems with someone you will be seeing at Christmas, try to resolve them in advance.  Ask if you can get together to talk through the issues.

    Talk about your anxieties with someone else, a friend, relative or a group such as the Samaritans.  Talking about the things that are worrying you can make a big difference.

  • Food and Drink
    Try not to overindulge.  Everyone deserves a treat but remember to include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet so you feel better, are healthier and have more energy.

    Be aware of your alcohol consumption.  Do not use alcohol as a way to relax or ‘numb the pain’.  Drinking excessively is never a good idea.  Not only is it detrimental to your body, but it can disturb sleeping patterns leading to irritability and fatigue.  Be aware that alcohol will affect any medication that you are taking.  Enjoy a festive tipple, but try to have some alcohol free days. 

  • Get Active
    Exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on mental as well as physical health.  A small amount of activity is better than none.  You do not need to go to the gym, a simple walk or exercising to a DVD will make you feel more energized and boost your mood.
  • Relax
    Take some time to yourself.  Some simple breathing exercises can help or just 10-15 minutes away from everything reading a book, going for a walk or having a bath.

    Try to get a decent night’s sleep; evidence shows that this has a positive effect on mental wellbeing.  Better quality sleep can be achieved by keeping to a regular sleep routine, consuming less alcohol, exercising and relaxing before bedtime.

If you find yourself unwell or are worried about someone who is currently accessing our services contact your Community Mental Health Team (CMHT). If you need urgent help after 5pm or on weekends/holidays, contact the out of hours duty team for your area else please see your GP or contact NHS direct on 0845 4647 who will be able to refer you to local services.