Whatever your circumstances, keeping 'well' over Christmas can be easier said than done. Here is how to keep your wellness in check over the festive period.
Christmas is a hectic, fun, chaotic, sad, memorable time of year in Ireland. We have a long tradition of making a massive song and dance out of the whole thing, and that doesn't just mean overspending and overindulging. Being 'home for Christmas' is a really big deal for a lot of Irish people. So is having the whole of Christmas week off (impossible for most of us but we'll try for it all the same). We love the catch-ups with friends and families; we love doing the same thing we did the year before and the year before that and all the other years before, too.
But Christmas isn't all fun and games. It can be stressful and overwhelming in so many ways and stress and anxiety can reach us for different reasons. If you struggle with your mental health throughout the rest of the year, chances are Christmas will be a challenge. Or maybe Christmas is always hard for you because of memories and losses. Even if you are generally in good mental health, the stress of the season can still take its toll.
We've compiled some tips to help keep your wellness in check over the festive period. However, never be afraid to talk to someone, call a helpline or seek professional help if you feel like it's all getting too much.
One of the big causes of stress around Christmas is money. Nip the problem in the bud as soon as possible. Here are some handy tips for managing your finances around the festive season.
Don't force yourself to endure a certain type of Christmas if you know it won't be beneficial to your mental health. If you are dreading the thought of going 'home' for a few days, limit your time. Pace yourself, do your duties and arrange for an alternative if needs be. Remember that people love helping other people at Christmas; someone will be there for you.
Don't sweat the small stuff. The 'perfect Christmas' does not exist. It can be wonderful and happy, but like everything from weddings to births, it probably won't go to plan. Do the best you can without making yourself sick, and that's good enough.
You won't be the only one feeling overwhelmed over Christmas. Unfortunately, levels of depression rise over this time of year, so as well as keeping your own mental health in check, keep an eye out for others.
One way to help others is to volunteer. It's also a nice way to be included in the holiday spirit if you are feeling lonely or distant. Not only will you be doing an incredible service, but you may also meet some new friends for life.
Create a new tradition
One huge reason why people feel sad at this time of year is that it reminds them of loved ones who have passed. If your loss is raw, and you every bit of the season reminds you of them making old traditions difficult to keep up, a nice way to alleviate the pain is to create a new tradition in their memory. Maybe go on a walk on Christmas morning, somewhere they liked to go. This new tradition will be something they never took part in, but it will be for them.
Keeping up to a routine is one good method for keeping well, but at Christmas, all sense of regimen and time gets lost. Exercise can help clear your head and make you feel better; try to keep it up over the holidays. Go for a swim in the local pool, or go for a couple of laps around the park. Make the time; you have more than you think.
Even if it's just for 20 minutes, some downtime alone can really help with calming down and de-stressing. If you find sitting still for that long difficult, bring your colouring book.
Yes, Christmas is about giving, but that includes you, too. However, treating yourself doesn't mean buying yourself a Micheal Kors handbag with your Christmas bonus (if you're lucky enough to get one). It can be as simple as allowing yourself an extra hour's sleep in the morning, or letting yourself have a big hot chocolate complete with cream and marshmallows when you've been saving your calories all December. You're worth it.
Don't forget, there is no shame in asking for help if you're not feeling well this Christmas - or at any time of year.