Xmas tips for maintaining good mental health

This blog explores some ideas of surviving the Xmas period, and I have borrowed heavily from my blog of last year ‘December’.  Whether Xmas is your favourite time of the year or you despise it with a passion, this blog might help you.

Do we always have to be happy at holiday time? For some of us, it can sound like an instruction, even a rule.  

If you do love all things Xmas, some things to watch out for are, spending too much money on presents/decorations/food/attractions/theatre/pantos etc, it is easy to get carried away and then end up starting a new year in debt. Partying too hard, too many late nights and hangover mornings can play havoc with your relationship with your boss and could in the long term damage your prospects. And too much overindulgence, in particular, alcohol, will damage your health. Keeping up some kind of routine (which includes some form of daily exercise) and maintaining balance in your life can enable you to have fun but not burn out.

If Xmas is one big turn off for you, it may seem that we may feel we have to be quiet or whisper about our discomfort with the whole event. That our true feelings would not be accepted by others, or that we might ‘bring them down’.  However, for some people, it really is a horrible time of the year, a time that reminds them of loss, grief, loneliness, of all the things they might desire but do not have. A time of rush and anxiety and panic and bustle and noise. Perhaps in that desire to fit in or maybe just to be liked, we can spend money on gifts that we can’t really afford and this can lead to feelings of resentment.

If this is the case for you then..maybe it is time to try doing it differently this time.

For instance, it can feel like a time of pretence. Perhaps we feel it most at the office party, putting on a smile and having drinks with colleagues we don’t really like.  Or spending a lot of time with relatives who after a sherry or two starts to relate to us in ways which damage our sense of wellbeing and worth and yet we are meant to carry on and smile through it. To deny the impact that it has on us- it’s the season to be jolly after all.  If we try to go along with it and fake it, then sooner or later it will take its toll – it is exhausting to wear a mask all the time! It is little wonder the body collapses under the stress of it all and we end up a reduced immune system and colds/flu etc.

So …try limiting the time you spend with others who you don’t enjoy relating to this time of year, so perhaps leaving the office party earlier than normal. There really is no brownie points for being the last man (or woman) standing.  And finding more time to lean into connecting with others who you can be authentically you with, all of your wonderful, human, imperfect self with. Furthermore, try practising being more in line with your feelings and so if you don’t feel jolly, don’t act jolly.

For people who have alcohol dependence or addiction, it can be a really difficult time of year, temptation is everywhere, the supermarkets at every turn have endless offers of alcoholic beverages of every description. And we can risk being labelled the ‘party pooper’ by friends and family because we won’t join in the ‘fun’ and choose to stay sober and protect our recovery.

If this resonates with you then there are ways to protect yourself. Eg. make use of home delivery of groceries from your local supermarket to deliver your food so you are not tempted by ‘in store’ alcohol offers, and turn down any party/Xmas drinks invitations that you believe will put you and your recovery at risk. Those who really respect you will understand. Remember, not drinking doesn’t equal no fun. And when you do go out to socialise, there are an increasing choice of alcohol-free (AF) alternatives to experiment with such as AF mulled wine and mocktails.

If for any reason this season isn’t for you, try to find soothing/relaxing/joyful activities that you do enjoy. Find and claim some time away from the chaos of it all. It isn’t selfish to take some time for you and listen to your needs. And like all things, it shall soon pass and it will be time to welcome in a new year, a fresh start and new beginnings.

If you are finding the holiday season too much, a counsellor can help you offload, and work with you to identify ways to manage and find the resilience to cope through the next few weeks.

So I wish you a Xmas in which you can be genuine, authentic and feel the love. Warm wishes x

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