Look after your mind this Christmas

How Christmas can detrimentally affect those who struggle with mental health issues, and how we can help ourselves, our friends and our family members who might not be feeling all that joyous this season.

Look after your mind this Christmas

The festive period is a time of togetherness and giving, but is also a large source of stress, overthinking and loneliness for those who may struggle with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. The pressure of being around so many people, or in some cases none at all, can be too much to bear for some, and can be exacerbated further when surrounded by festivities and others who are enjoying their time away from work.

You can’t just switch on happiness, and you can’t force festivity. Some people are really struggling mentally during this time of year, and it can be easy to overlook those who might be in need of support. Here, we have curated a list of easy ways that you can alleviate anxieties and overthinking, and end your year positively, even if things seem overwhelming.

Christmas dinner

Many put so much pressure on themselves to deliver the best possible Christmas dinner for themselves, their family or their friends. It can be a tall task, the expectation for Christmas is to seemingly break both your back and your bank to get the best possible ingredients and create the best possible experience for others. Therefore it is not hard to understand the plight that many feel when it comes to that fateful day. Alleviate the stresses put on them easily by offering a helping hand, or reassuring them that they don’t have to cook a Michelin star meal this year, and it will be just as good.

Brave face to mask feelings

When surrounded by what looks on the surface to be joyous festivities and events, there is a slight bandwagoning effect that seems to occur more often around Christmas than at others, in the form of brave facing. It is commonly known that most who experience mental illnesses like depression tend to hide their struggle by faking smiles and distractions. Try to look out for signs like these and chat with those that you care for about how their year may have gone, how they are feeling and whether they are upset or lonely. Reach out to those friends that you haven't heard from in a while, it is always as simple as asking the right questions to understand how someone is feeling, and it will make them feel seen too. Plus, who knows what kind of friendships you could end up rekindling if they have waned at all – Christmas is a great excuse to reach out.

Trying to make things perfect for others

There are certainly over-givers during Christmas time, and sometimes it is because they themselves are stressing about how others might be perceiving their time with them. People want to create a perfect atmosphere, they want to give everyone everything they need, and this perfectionism can be damaging to the psyche. The ones who struggle the most are distracting themselves with trivialities like this, make sure to look out for it, and calm the person down! They are on holiday to relax, after all.

Good enough is good enough 

Know that whatever amount of time you spend with, or money you spend on others is always good enough, and that you shouldn’t beat yourself up about who you have and have not seen, or people whose presents you might have missed at Christmas this year. Everyone is spread thin in the lead up, and no one expects anything from you – they often don’t have the time themselves to worry about what you have done for them. You have to focus on the time you give yourself too! Take breaks, breathe, meditate and clear your mind. What better way to see in the new year than to spend some of your time caring for number one?

Go outside

Fresh air is one of the biggest healers, it is too easy to get isolated within your home during cold months. Make sure that you make efforts to leave your space for a little while now and again, a walk around town or in a rural area can be extremely beneficial to a person’s headspace, and can help to clear the mind of stresses that may be bogging you down after another heavy year. Exercise always makes you feel good, so try to be active where you can too, and get a head start on that repeated new years resolution. An added hit of both dopamine and serotonin will rejuvenate your mind and you will feel a whole lot better for it.

Think of things you are grateful for  

Finally, take an introspective look at some of the more positive aspects of the past year, either for you personally, the great things that might have happened to those you care about, or in generality. Think about people you might have met, memorable moments, new things that you have learned, your achievements of the year, that kind of thing. This reflection of the year can help to centre yourself and drive ideas for your future goals, organisation is key to combating stress and eventual anxieties you can feel. Take a step back and be retrospective and grateful for the stuff you have already done, no matter how small that might seem.

Hopefully these end of year tips can help you to enter 2022 on a high, and help to settle your mind amidst the Christmas craziness around each year. There is no better gift to give than that of love, make sure you give that gift to yourself first, above anyone else.

Header Image Credit: "627011672" by Fort George G. Meade is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Ash Edmonds

Ash Edmonds Kickstart

A graduate of Music Journalism from BIMM Brighton – where he now lives – Ash has been writing about everything creative for the past few years. An avid audiophile, he spends a lot of his time searching streaming platforms, record stores and live shows trying to find his next musical obsession.

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