Christmas can be stressful and heighten loneliness, financial and relationship problems, including domestic abuse. So here are Dandelion Therapy Services top ten tips to help you take care of your mental health during the festive season.
1. Try not to expect too much of yourself at Christmas, as we often put ourselves under a lot of emotional and financial pressure. However, the stress of Christmas preparations will be unimportant in a couple of months.
2. Make a list of all the things you need to do before Christmas and do one thing at a time. If you want to decide which item is the most important, review it and cross out anything else that isn't essential. Ignore everything else on the list for the time being if you do that one thing. The next thing should be prioritised first. The rest of your list will seem more manageable when you achieve each item.
3. Treat yourself to a little bit of time out for yourself. Even if it's only 10 minutes, it could do you a world of good. Read a few pages of a good book, watch a movie on Netflix, listen to some music or go for a walk. Or if you have more time, try a massage, a manicure, or a night out at the cinema.
4. Don't live in the past or worry about the future. Dwelling on the past or worrying about the future will make it harder to enjoy the moment. Simple mindfulness exercises can help to keep your mind focused on the present.
5. Talking with a friend or relative about the things that are worrying you can help you realise that some of them aren't so important after all and help you focus on one or two things that are at the root of your worry.
6. I don't think everyone has a competitive Christmas if you believe what you see on social media. Everyone else seems to be enjoying merrier, better decorated, more delicious, infinitely better planned Christmases than you. And, in many ways, you can top off your Christmas by being more thoughtful, generous and creative. Social media can give you a fun way to swap festive wishes online, but don't be sucked in. Although it can be fun to outdo the Joneses online, don't try to keep up with them.
7. It can be tempting to drink alcohol to cope with stress, loneliness or keep up the party pace. Still, alcohol is a depressant, so limit your intake to within safe guidelines and avoid too much sugar, making you sleepy. It's a good idea to eat lots of different types of vegetables, fruit and lean meat and drink lots of water during festive celebrations. A brisk 20-minute walk will help you feel relaxed and happy and boost your immune system, which will help you avoid seasonal viruses.
8. It is suitable for our mental well being to help others or perform small acts of kindness. You could listen to a colleague's Christmas fears, do some festive volunteering at a local charity, take a Christmas treat to a lonely neighbour, or even tie a gingerbread house on the door of each home in your street. You will feel good if you try it!
9. Don't sleep with a television on as they disrupt our ability to sleep, and try reading a book or magazine instead. Coffee, cola, and energy drinks can stop us from sleeping, but recent research shows that they also reset our body clock, postponing our sleep and wake times. Dark sleeping space is essential, as well as a simple relaxation exercise before bed: lie on your back with your eyes closed, tense your muscles, then concentrate on relaxing each part of your body in turn.
10. The most straightforward mental well-being trick of all time is to breathe. Take slow, steady, deep breaths, emptying your lungs as much as possible in between each breath, before you sleep or whenever you feel stress or anxiety building. In through your nose and through your mouth, breathe in for four counts and out for six.