Look after your Mental Health

It’s important that you look after your mental health all year round, but the winter months, and particularly the Christmas period, can bring additional challenges for some people.

At this busy time of year, you may become more worried about finances, relationships with family and friends may be strained or you may become stressed over preparing for Christmas. Many experience symptoms of anxiety and stress such as irritability and problems sleeping, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and feelings of panic.

It’s important to talk about these feelings with someone you trust – it’s best to speak to you friends or family if you feel you can. And if you know someone who suffers with mental health problems, then please make every effort to stay in touch.

Tips to stay mentally healthy and happy throughout the winter period:

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, shop online to avoid the crowds.  Write a list so that you are not tempted by things you don’t need.

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. 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, healthier and have more energy. Enjoy a festive tipple, but try to have some alcohol free days.  Be aware that alcohol has a depressant affect and can make your feelings worse. It can also affect any medication that you are taking.

Money:  Try not to add to any money worries you may have 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.

Keep active: Studies show that regular exercise can have the same impact as antidepressant medication. And there is evidence that exercise has 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 taking time out to read a book, listen to music, going for a walk or having a bath. It’s important to get a good night’s sleep. Better quality sleep can be achieved by keeping to a regular sleep routine, consuming less alcohol, exercising and relaxing before bedtime.