Top tips on how to look after your mental health at Christmas

The festive season can be a time of joy and spending time with loved ones but it can also be a stressful and lonely period. During this time, it is important to try to remember to look after your mental health and wellbeing. Here are some top tips from the Mental Health Foundation

Talk about your feelings – It’s hard to admit that at such an exciting time of year you don’t actually feel that great. But talking about your feelings can improve your mood and make it easier to deal with the tough times. It’s part of taking charge or ‘self managing’ your mental wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy. It’s important to create space for these conversations and also worth identifying who you can speak to if you are concerned about your wellbeing.

Do something you are good at – What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? Enjoying yourself helps beat stress. As busy as the holiday season gets, try and keep up the activities and hobbies you enjoy all year round.

Ask for help – Donning a Christmas jumper can make us feel pretty special but none of us are superhuman. At times we all get overwhelmed by how we feel, especially when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you in the next few weeks and you feel like you can’t cope, ask for help. Samaritans are available to speak to all year round – their free helpline number is 116 123 and calls to this number do not appear on phone bills.

Keep in touch – When putting the finishing touches on holiday plans, we can often become distracted from the support systems around us and lose our footing. Friends and family can make you feel included and cared for. They can offer different views from whatever’s going on inside your own head, keep you grounded and help you solve practical problems – enjoy this time to catch up. If alone and/or away from family, the Campaign to end Loneliness provide some helpful resources. There is also a local initiative called Natter Shack which seeks to bring people together to sit, chat and relax and form friendships.

Accept who you are – Some of us make people laugh, others cook fantastic meals. Some of us share our lifestyle with the people who live close to us, others live very differently. If you have mental health problems, don’t feel under pressure to do more than you feel up to this Christmas.

Drink sensibly – Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only ever temporary. It’s great to catch up with friends or colleagues in the pub – spending time on good relationships is essential for good mental health – but know your limits. It’s important to maintain your personal wellbeing, too.

Eat well – Christmas is typically a time of overindulgence but what we eat can sometimes impact on how we feel. For example, too much sugar can have a noticeable effect on your mental health and wellbeing in the short and long term. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a little overindulgence but a good tip is to balance this out over the festive period – everything in moderation.

Keep active – It’s no surprise that cold weather and short days are not the greatest motivation to get you out of bed and on a 5k run! But research shows that doing exercise releases chemicals in your body that can make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you to concentrate, sleep and feel better. Exercise also keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy. So use that Christmas spirit for physical health as well as mental health – you might even enjoy the crisp air!

Take a break – The holiday season is a perfect time to take some time out of your day-to-day life and gain some perspective to reflect on the year. Whether spending time away from home or a stay-cation, re-energise by giving yourself a change of scene or pace. It’s good for you!


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