Holiday seasons such as Christmas can bring much joy and happiness, but can often trigger stress or negative feelings, particularly in those more vulnerable or who are already feeling under pressure.
The holidays can bring a dizzying array of demands (financial, social, family and friends to name a few) so at these times, it’s very important to plan ahead to avoid feeling over-whelmed. You can’t choose when Christmas comes or how you feel about it, but you can choose to help yourself get through it.
Some Practical Tips
Have realistic expectations
Are you expecting the perfect Christmas this year? Be honest and realistic about what you can expect from the holidays. We all tend to compare ourselves with other people, or have expectations that the holidays will bring us more happiness or contentedness than they actually do. If things don’t turn out as planned, it can have a negative impact on our self-esteem. Instead, focus on what one or two things are important to you at Christmas; this year, promise yourself you’ll have a simpler festive season.
Reflect on what you've achieved this year
What about the dreaded New Year’s Resolutions? As the end of the year approaches, try not to berate yourself for the things you thought you should have achieved by now – accept yourself and where you are right now. This New Year, use the time to reflect on, and celebrate, how far you have come and all you have achieved already.
Show compassion for others
An act of simple kindness can change any experience completely. At a time of year when others might feel more lonely or isolated than normal, an extra compassionate gesture, some companionship or a listening ear, could be the greatest present they receive. Research also shows that by helping others or by participating in our community, we can also boost our own sense of connectedness, wellbeing and happiness.
Seek professional help if you need to
Despite your best efforts, you might feel more low, stressed, sad or anxious over the holidays. If you are already getting support from a GP or Mental Health Professional, talk to them before the holidays about what support they can offer you, should you need it during Christmas. Don’t hesitate to reach out; many other services (especially helpline and online services) are open during Christmas and New Year – find more details here.
Maintain your healthy habits
At times like Christmas, it’s easy to fall out of our normal routines – our body clocks can change and it’s not unusual to over-indulge in many different ways. As a result, our motivation levels can drop and we can feel bloated, sluggish and unwell. Maintaining a healthy sleep pattern, some regular outdoor physical exercise, a good diet and minding our alcohol intake during the holidays, will all be very helpful.
Above all else, allow yourself to take some time out, without distractions, during the holidays. If you are feeling depleted in any way, find yourself a quiet space to breathe, restore your energy and do some of the small things that help you feel replenished. Give yourself permission to refrain from the frenzy of Christmas if you need to. Christmas might be all about giving, but that means giving to yourself too.