The Festive Season is often associated with love and joy; families spending time together, delicious food, beautiful gifts, and enjoying some time away from work. However, for many people the December Christmas period can be a lonely and depressing time. High expectations, increased financials pressure, and difficult family relationships are just some of the factors that can make the festive season a difficult time.
If you feel yourself dreading the coming Christmas period, here are some tips on how you can take care of your mental health during this time:
Don’t set up unrealistic expectations
Most of us will not experience the picture perfect holiday season that we often see on TV or in magazines, and putting financial or emotional pressure on ourselves or others to make that ideal possible just sets us up for disappointment. Instead try to focus on everything that you do have to be thankful for, like getting some time off of work, or the promise of a fresh start with the beginning of the new year.
Don’t try to do everything
During the holidays there can be a lot of pressure to do everything - plan the perfect holiday, spend time with family, meet those year-end deadlines, afford expensive gifts and food, the list goes on. If you are prone to anxiety and depression, this stress can take a significant toll on your mood. Deciding ahead of time how much money you will be spending, how much time you will spend with family, and how you will manage your year-end deadlines can help to protect you from feeling overwhelmed.
For many people, December is the busiest time of the year. When work pressures pile up and the calendar gets full with social obligations, the routines that normally keep us healthy and happy - regular exercise, healthy home-cooked meals, abstaining from alcohol - usually fall away. In addition to increased stress, eating poorly and drinking excessively can exacerbate issues like stress, anxiety and depression. Practise self-care during this time, and don’t allow a few days of holiday to jeopardise your wellbeing.
Don’t isolate yourself
Some of us don’t have family to spend the holidays with, and that can make us feel lonely and depressed. But it is important not to isolate yourself during this time. Visit with friends or colleagues, continue practising your hobbies, and spend some time in nature.
Your mental health and wellbeing come before anything else, so whether you need to distance yourself from negative family members, focus on abstaining from unhealthy food or substances, or just manage your expectations to avoid disappointment, focus on making this December period a happy and healthy one.