How to have a Merry Mental Health Christmas.
Christmas can be an incredibly overwhelming time. There’s a lot of pressure to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas filled with Instagram-worthy moments but the reality is often quite different. The festive season puts a lot of strain on people who are already struggling with anxiety, money problems and mental health issues and then there is the added pressure to be filled with Christmas cheer. Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean caring for your mental health has to be put on hold. You’re allowed to take breaks and do things that perhaps don’t involve the whole family. Remember: mental health and physical health are equally important. Think of it this way – if you fell over and grazed your knee on Christmas Day, you’d put a plaster on it. So, if your mental health needs a plaster, you should do something about it.
Have a think about your agenda this Christmas – what you want to achieve, things you do (or don’t) want to do, people you do want to spend time with and perhaps people you want to limit your time with. Think about how you want to look after your wellbeing and make it a priority. You can then set your boundaries by:
- Communicating clear boundaries to family and friends. Let them know that you may need time out for quiet and calm.
- Balancing your sense of social obligations against your need for self-care. If attending a party fills you with dread, it’s OK to choose to do something else.
- Challenging the assumption that anything ‘needs’ to happen over Christmas. All too often we can get caught up in traditions we don’t enjoy because we feel the need to perform these activities for it to feel like ‘proper’ Christmas.
- Giving yourself permission to say no.
Reframe Your Thoughts
You can ‘train’ your brain to be your own best friend this Christmas to allow yourself to have the Christmas YOU truly want. Reframing your thoughts means replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. It’s about being more self-aware and checking yourself to avoid slipping into a negative spiral. Try these top tips to reframe your thoughts:
- Turn the volume down on your internal critic – reaffirm to yourself daily that your mental health comes first and self-care is an important part of taking care of yourself.
- Accept how you feel and honour those feelings.
- Remember that you are loved. You are worth it.
- Give yourself permission to be you.
- Think of your self-care time as a rest day.
Your Christmas, YOUR Way
With boundaries and reframed thinking, you can truly have the Christmas you want – and need. You can take time for yourself to do what you like and feel comfortable with. You may even want to organise something completely different for Christmas Day, like volunteer work or helping out at a local event. Have a think about some alternative things you could do this Christmas to make the day more enjoyable for yourself.
First and foremost, you need to look after yourself, and you need to do that every day of the year. Mental health matters every single day.