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Mental Health at Christmas

Christmas is not a happy time for everyone. Here are a few tips to help us all look out for ourselves and each other.

More and more people are struggling with mental health issues throughout the year.

Whilst many people see Christmas as a happy, joyful time spent with friends and family, for many people suffering with depression, anxiety, stress or the loss of a loved one, Christmas can only make their symptoms worse.

Why people may suffer from negative mental health during Christmas

Pressure to get the ‘perfect’ gift

With more and more people spending more and more time on social media viewing products, consumerism is at an all-time high.

That means that by the time Christmas comes around, people have had a whole 12 months of saving things to their home page ready for Christmas time.

It’s no wonder that people are spending more money than ever at Christmas. In fact, research has uncovered that putting pressure on yourself to get the perfect gift for someone does a lot more harm to your mental health than good [1].

Excessive Eating and Drinking Alcohol

Christmas dinners, lunches, and excessive drinking at parties throughout the festive period is not good for anyone.

However, for those with pre-existing eating disorders or addictions, it can be extremely challenging during this time of year [2].  Seeing loved ones enjoy a drink can act as a ‘trigger’, and can even potentially cause relapse [3].

Worrying about the planning involved

In a 2015 study by mental health charity Mind [4], over a third of all individuals with a mental health problem admitted to harming themselves due to the planning and pressure of Christmas.

In addition to this, 76% of adults admitted to having issues sleeping during Christmas time.

Financial Concerns

It’s no secret that living costs are increasing rapidly. However, Christmas is also becoming more expensive than ever.

In fact, The Bank of England found that the average family spent approximately £740 more at Christmas time, which is a shocking 29% more than any other month [5].

Ways people can protect their mental health during Christmas

Eat & Drink Sensibly

During Christmas, in order to maintain a healthy mindset and body, try to eat and drink sensibly.

Whilst it’s okay to indulge in pigs and blankets and Christmas puddings at Christmas time, make sure that you eat lots of fruit and vegetables as well as watching your sugar intake.

Additionally, you should limit your alcohol consumption so that you do not over do it.

If you already struggle form a drug or alcohol addiction, then it’s important to avoid situations that might trigger a craving.

Exercise When You Can

In an attempt to create positive emotions and release endorphins, try to exercise throughout the festive period.

The best way to ensure that you find yourself motivated enough to get up and going is to schedule your exercise so that you don’t over do it the night before.

Your body will thank you, but your mind will too.

Plan & Buy Ahead

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, make sure you plan all your present buying and organising ahead of time.

This will mean that you don’t over plan and overcommit, whilst also helping you to spread the cost a bit more by buying Christmas presents throughout the year.

Ask for Help

Most importantly, ask for help when you need it. If you’re struggling with your mental health at Christmas because of the pressure or stress, ask your friends and family members for help.

Additionally, see the below organisations who can offer professional help as well as the below infographic that can be saved to your phone or device as a reminder.

Mental Health at Christmas

Mental Health at Christmas – References

[1] https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article-abstract/27/1/84/1791561?redirectedFrom=fulltext

[2] https://www.ahcs.ac.uk/2021/12/15/mental-health-at-christmas-by-rehab4addiction/

[5] Learn more about relapse in the alcohol rehab Bristol page.

[4] https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/mind-warns-that-people-with-mental-health-problems-struggle-with-self-harm-and-suicidal-feelings-due-to-the-pressure-of-christmas/#.WikXzUpl82x

[5] https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/knowledgebank/how-much-do-we-spend-at-christmas

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