Monday, 30 November 2015

Give the gift of self care this Christmas

Grace writes about how going home for the holidays can be a stressful, and the importance of self care. 

 - Grace Anderson 

Christmas; a happy time of year with lots of festive fun and a good time to be had by all. This is the view that is ingrained into us from a young age. Although, as the winter holiday season approaches some people may be anticipating a less than happy Christmas. Many people struggle with this festive time of year. Struggle with the countless events planned, socialising, affording Christmas presents and activities, unrealistic expectations, being sad in a time when everyone is expecting you to be happy.

All this pressure to be “merry” and “happy” may be too much for some, and can even lead you to breaking point. The holidays can be stressful and disappointing at the best of times for anyone, regardless of if you are experiencing mental health problems. However, these mental health problems may make the experience more difficult. If you are experiencing depression, the idea of doing festive things is beyond overwhelming. Attending many social events if you are experiencing anxiety may be terrifying.

If this person is you, then don’t worry you are not alone and I am sure that you are not the only one struggling with difficulties this Christmas. Don’t let the pressure get to you as holding the belief that you “should” be having fun can actually lead to you feeling worse about Christmas. So get rid of those “shoulds” that come with the holiday season. I give you permission to chuck them in the bin. Do what you want to do over the festive period. And most of all don’t beat yourself up about how you’re feeling, you're entitled to have those feelings.

You don’t have to attend every social event that you are invited to, because having to smile and pretend that everything is ok is draining; it’s ok to say no. However, locking yourself in your room and isolating yourself from everyone can make things harder. Try taking small steps to see one or two people, or even text or speak on the phone and gradually build up to socialising.

I've found that drinking too much alcohol can cause me to feel worse. The tip I'd give would be to keep it to a minimum over the holidays. Who cares if everyone else is drinking, you don’t have to. You need to look after yourself and how you are feeling and not try and fit in with others.

If leaving the house is difficult then buy presents online and have them delivered from your door, not only can you do this from the comfort of your own home but you also avoid the sheer number of Christmas shoppers. Cards can also be ordered online and websites like moon pig and funky pigeon do personalised cards for those people who mean the most to you.

Just remember the sheer stress of the holidays can be too much for anyone, regardless of whether you are experiencing mental health difficulties,  the holidays aren't always easy, but you are not alone.

Keep an eye out for the next Mind Matters email about how to manage mental health during the holidays. 

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