Mental Health during the Festive Season

With Christmas only 1 week away, people across the country are working hard, under pressure to ensure that everything is perfect for just that one day.

Christmas is one of the most celebrated traditions of the year.

However, in recent years the message of Christmas has been fundamentally changed from hope and love to a more materialistic approach that has now surpassed the true meaning of the festive period.

There is pressure from social media and marketing to meet demands, which can induce stress for children and families on low incomes, changes in benefits, also uncertainty about employment, illnesses etc Parents succumb to the worries and anxieties with expectations from children and family on Christmas day.

Christmas is also a time that can evoke painful memories within families due to bereavement, separation, divorce and family conflict.

So therefore, how can we approach this festive period positively despite all of these in differences? Here are 5 top tips:

  1. Prioritise a budget, with realistic expectations, communicating with the family about affordability of presents.
  2. Be open and honest. Understanding that the true values of Christmas are not just about the material side, but of unity, family, love and spending time together.
  3. Look after yourself. Those who are suffering grief, understand that this is a time of conflicting emotions, so channelling this in a positive way is helpful.
  4. Help others. If you are lonely at Christmas offer to volunteer, or help a neighbour this will make you feel better and have company during the day.
  5. Go for a winter stroll. Enjoying the fresh air and the surroundings.

Social media can be positive over Christmas if used effectively. Contact an old school friend with similar interests, or perhaps share similar experiences in life, which will elicit positive connections.

If you are struggling over Christmas, remember that there is always support on hand:

  • If you struggle with drug/ substance misuse issues get support and attend a group such as AA/NA.
  • If you have not got enough food, don't be afraid to contact your nearest Foodbank.
  • If you struggle with your mental health, utilise if possible online support, like Mindand the Samaritans. If you do not have online access, call the Samaritans Helpline or speak to a family member or close friend.

The most important advice is to ask for help and to be honest. We are all human and struggle in different ways depending on our circumstances in our lives. Be open and accept help, as the majority of people are kind and will gladly help someone who needs to talk, even a stranger!

So let's return to the essence of Christmas, beyond the gifts, beyond the pretty décor on the tree and focus on spreading the true meaning of this festivity which is:

Kindness, Compassion, Love and Hope!

Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy & Healthy New Year

Mary is a Registered General Nurse and Registered Mental Health Nurse. She has worked in a variety of specialities and has personal experience of mental health issues. Mary's main passion is raising mental health awareness and working in suicide prevention.

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