Mental Health at Christmas

Almost everybody has an opinion on Christmas, it’s a bit like Marmite… You love it or you hate it. Personally, I love Christmas and everything that comes with it, however, I do find it overwhelming. The added pressures of spending money, fitting everything into a schedule and ensuring you are keeping everybody happy.

I sat down the other day and thought about everything I need to do, the small amount of time I have to divide and I cried. Upon reflection, crying about Christmas isn’t exactly the most productive thing to do. But I do find this time of year makes a change to my mental health worse and many others experience this too.

Statistics from Mind show that 81% of people find Christmas a stressful time and 41% of people get into debt just to cover the cost of Christmas gifts.

50% of people questioned experience more panic attacks over the festive period and a third of people self harm more frequently through this time (these statistics have been taken from people who already experience some kind of mental health problem). These numbers are significant and there are many reasons for it, such as an increase in alcohol and drug intake, lack of sleep and managing expectations of other people.

Looking over this research really made me think that I am not the only person feeling this way. We have been shown images of the ‘perfect’ Christmas from a young age, in movies, songs and marketing. A lot of the stress in my case derives from the want and need to make everything perfect and to achieve an enjoyable Christmas.

These are three things I am going to do to keep myself on track over Christmas:

Plan ahead and be realistic. This is an important one for me, I am going to be realistic with the time I have and recognise any constraints. I am incredibly lucky to have family and friends around me that I would like to see, I am just going to be more mindful about stuffing my calendar full without giving myself a break. This might take being selfish occasionally and that is ok.

Avoid comparisons. Social media can be a breeding ground of comparison, people do different things at Christmas and I will not let FOMO take over. I do not need to go to Winter Wonderland and take a cute photo kissing someone. It’s the same pretty much every year.

Get enough sleep and eat well. Being so busy and enjoying festivities can run us down so sticking to the basics is on my to do list, that will mean heading off from nights out at earlier times (I’m basically a grandma anyway, usually in bed by 9pm)

Let me know what you think, I always love hearing your thoughts.

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