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10 Tips For Surviving The Festive Period - Improve your Mental Health

10 Tips For Surviving The Festive Period and Protecting Your Mental Health

For many people, the festive season brings comfort and joy, nostalgic memories, and a time of giving back to others.

There’s no doubt about it: the holidays are a wonderful time of year. However, they can also be incredibly stressful and may actually bring to the surface emotions you’ve been working on overcoming.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or down this holiday season, know that you’re not alone. While it’s not talked about nearly enough, many people struggle with their mental health during this time of year.

Let’s explore a few ways you can survive the festivities while ensuring your mental health stays intact for the new year to come.

Why Mental Health Is a Priority During The Festive Season:

While it’s incredibly important to take care of your mental health year-round, it’s crucial during the holidays.

In fact, 2 in 5 British citizens experience an uptick in stress during the Christmas season, while 1 in 4 struggle with feelings of anxiety or depression. Not only this, 19% of British adults feel as though the holidays have a negative impact on their overall mental health.

Why is this?

From holiday planning, feelings of loneliness, financial struggles, and schedule changes, the list goes on. However, learning how to manage these feelings is the first step in creating positive change with a fresh start just around the corner.

10 Ways To Manage Your Mental Health During The Festive Season:

1. Reach Out To Your Support System:

Your support system is there for a reason. They want to help you and be there for you, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them if you’re feeling lonely or down during the holiday season.

You might be surprised at how willing they are to help!

Here are a few ways to reach out to your support system:

  • Call a friend or family member: Just because you can’t be with them in person doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them on the phone. Sometimes hearing a loved one’s voice is all you need to feel better.
  • Join an online support group: There are many groups available on sites like Facebook and Reddit where people come together to discuss their mental health struggles. This can be a great way to connect with people who understand what you’re going through.
  • See a therapist: If you’re feeling particularly down, make an appointment to see a therapist. They can help you manage your symptoms and give you tools to deal with the upcoming holidays.
  • Talk to your doctor: If you’re feeling really struggling, make an appointment to see your doctor. They can check for any underlying medical conditions that could be contributing to your feelings of loneliness and prescribe medication if necessary.

2. Set Realistic Expectations:

The festivities don’t have to be perfect. In fact, some may find they’re often more enjoyable when things don’t go according to plan!

If you’re someone that likes to plan your holidays in advance, make sure to set realistic expectations for yourself to avoid feeling burnt out, disappointed, or guilty.

You may take into account the holidays from the past. Remember, people change and therefore our traditions may change. Speak with your loved ones or family members about what activities are a must, and which ones can be left out.

Write these down ahead of time to ensure you’re able to meet everyone’s expectations for the season.

3. Stick To a Budget:

The holidays are a time for giving, but if you’re not careful, they can also be a time for overspending.

Whether you’re buying gifts for your loved ones or treating yourself to a few festive things, it’s easy to get caught up in the spending spree. This can be especially difficult if you’re struggling with your mental health during the holidays as finances are the leading cause of stress and anxiety this time of year.

Here are three tips to help you stay on track:

  • Make a List and Stick to It! One of the easiest ways to overspend is to go into the holiday season without a plan. Sit down and make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for, as well as a budget for each person. Once you’ve got your list and your budget, stick to it! It can be tempting to go over budget when you see all the wonderful things available, but if you stick to your list, you’ll be less likely to overspend.
  • Shop Online—But beware of sales! Shopping online can be a great way to find deals and save money. However, it’s important to be aware of sales and special offers before you start shopping. Many retailers offer “special” prices that are only available for a limited time, which can lead you to spend more than you planned. If you’re going to shop online, take the time to compare prices and find the best deals before you start adding things to your cart.
  • Give Experiences Instead of Things: One of the best ways to avoid overspending is to focus on giving experiences instead of things. Instead of buying your loved ones material items that they may not even want or need, consider giving them an experience that they’ll remember forever. You could buy tickets to a show or concert, plan a fun day trip, or treat them to dinner at their favorite restaurant. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that they’ll truly enjoy and appreciate—not something that will end up collecting dust on a shelf.

4. Say No:

It’s okay to say no to holiday parties, gift exchanges, and other events that you’re not in the mood for. Your mental health is more important than attending every single event.

You might experience FOMO (fear of missing out) but as quickly as the event has passed, so will those feelings. You don’t need to participate in every activity out there to have a fun, meaningful holiday season.

If you still want to celebrate, plan a “night-in” by watching Christmas movies and baking cookies. That way, you’ll still be able to recharge your batteries while remaining in the festive spirit.

5. Take Breaks.

You may feel this unexplainable rush to “get everything together” before the end of the year. While this is understandable, it can feel hectic and make taking a true break incredibly difficult. When things start to feel overwhelming, step away from the holiday madness and take some time for yourself.

It’s important to note, it’s not often the amount of time we rest but rather what we spend our time doing while we rest. In our day and age, taking a break often means grabbing our cellphones and scrolling for a few hours.

This actually doesn’t give our brain the much-needed break it longs for, however. It’s still being stimulated by a screen and fluctuating our emotional levels.

Instead, go for a walk, read your favorite book, or take a relaxing bath – something to unplug and allow yourself a true break.

6. Avoid Comparing Yourself To Others:

In our hyper-connected world, it can be nearly impossible to feel unsatisfied with our lives at one point or another. Maybe you just spent hours decorating your tree – as your heart swells with pride you sit down and start scrolling through Instagram. There, you find dozens of more elaborate and beautifully decorated homes making you instantly feel unworthy.

See how comparison can be a thief of joy? Remind yourself that social media is a highlight reel, not an accurate picture of what many of these people’s lives are actually like.

7. Practice Self-Care:

This is a difficult time of year for everyone, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. If you’re a parent you may get lost in trying to give your children the most magical Christmas of all. So much so you begin to put your own needs on the back burner. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling: Don’t try to bottle up your emotions or pretend like everything is okay when it’s not. It’s perfectly normal to feel sad, anxious or stressed during the holidays. Give yourself permission to feel those things and know that it’s okay.
  • Take some time for yourself every day: Even if it’s just 15 or 20 minutes, make sure you have some time each day where you can do something that you enjoy without any obligations or responsibilities.
  • Make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically: Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and stay hydrated. This will help your body and mind feel better overall. But most importantly…

8. Be Kind To Yourself:

This is not the time for self-criticism or negative self-talk. Give yourself a break and focus on the positive.

No one is perfect, least of all during the holiday season. If your finances aren’t what they were last year, beating yourself up over it is only going to make you feel even worse about the situation.

Your children or loved ones aren’t going to remember what presents you gave them, or how your house was decorated. They’re not going to remember if you spent hundreds of dollars on a sleigh ride, or you opted to take your kids sledding.

Give yourself grace. Be gentle with yourself during this time of year. Cut yourself some slack and know that it’s okay if things aren’t perfect. Whatever you do, just keep moving forward.

9. Seek Professional Help If Needed:

Between family gatherings, work parties, and everything in between, the holidays can be a stressful time of year. And if you’re already struggling with your mental health, those added stressors can be enough to push you over the edge.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you’re struggling to cope. There’s no shame in seeking professional help and it could be exactly what you need to get through this tough time.

Orchestrate Health is a private community mental health service, committed to joining the dots in the provision of care, we contacted by contacted on 0800 193 3277 or [email protected].

10. Focus On What’s Important:

This may look like your health, your happiness, and your loved ones. The holiday season should be about enjoying time with the people you care about, not about stress and anxiety. If you keep your focus on what’s important, you’ll be able to get through this difficult time with ease.

Key Takeaways:

The holiday season can be tough for many people—but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re struggling this year, remember to focus on self-care and protecting your mental health. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling, take some time for yourself every day, set boundaries with family and friends, and make sure you’re taking care of your physical well-being too. These small steps can make a big difference in how you feel this holiday season!





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