The festive season can be a difficult time for many and often presents lots of challenges. While the holidays are a happy time for some, lots of people find themselves under heavy pressure – whether it’s financial worries, the responsibility to host family or simply the expectation to feel happy and positive all the time. Christmas can cause many people to feel anxious, and surviving the holiday season can feel like one huge battle for some. 

Whether you’re feeling low, in conflict with a family member or you’re facing your first holiday without a loved one, we’ve put together some tips to help you manage your mental health this Christmas. 

Don’t be afraid to say “no” – choose what you attend carefully

Many of us feel obliged to attend every festive event we’re invited to, but a packed-out calendar can be overwhelming. From family gatherings to office parties, the holidays can be an extremely busy time, and balancing obligations and self-care may feel challenging. The truth is, you are not obliged to attend every event you are invited to, and if you feel like your commitments are taking the joy out of the festive season, don’t be afraid to say “no” to some of them. Whether you’re experiencing social anxiety or the thought of sitting in a room full of people doesn’t make you feel great, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time out to maintain your self-care routine. Nothing is worth jeopardising your mental health or happiness; learning how to say no can be one of the most beneficial tools in life. 

Try not to compare your festive experience with someone else’s

Everyone’s holidays look, feel and sound different. Some people like to have a quiet Christmas with little fuss; others like to go all-out with shopping, decorating, family gatherings and food. There is no right or wrong when it comes to celebrating (or not celebrating) the festive holiday – you just need to do what is relaxing and joyful for you.

Try not to compare your festive experience with other peoples’. Instead of focussing on that friend who flies from party to party or paying too much attention to how other families celebrate, try to recognise that this time of year is often filled with unrealistic expectations of how happy everyone should be – and this often leaves us comparing ourselves to others.

Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media is a sensible place to start. It’s important to remember that social media is an illusion; people are far more likely to share images of them at parties or in their favourite festive outfits, than the nights they spent alone in their pyjamas.

Don’t jeopardise your finances for one day

Some people experience increased financial burden during the festive period. Over the holidays, we seem to do everything in excess – eating, drinking, gift-giving, decorating, shopping, partying… All of these things can rack up a huge bill, which leaves many people heading into the new year at a financial disadvantage. The truth is, Christmas can drain our wallets and our energy, leaving us feeling anxious and stressed when the new year rolls round.

If finances are a source of anxiety for you, don’t feel afraid to push back on how much you spend this year. It is not unreasonable to set spending limits, opt for homemade gifts or cook homemade meals instead of eating out – all of which can save you money and put you in a better position (both mentally and financially) when January comes around.

Talk if you need to

Admitting that you don’t feel great during the festive season can be difficult. According to the movies, the music and the adverts, this time of year is supposed to be incredibly exciting – but for many, it’s a tough period that requires lots of strength. Talking about your feelings is an important part of self-managing your mental wellbeing; it’s can help you cope with feelings and issues you’re experiencing and validates that what you are experiencing is real.

Finding the time to talk about how you’re feeling can be beneficial. Whether it’s over a coffee with a friend or on the phone to a family member, simply making space in your life for these conversations can make all the difference. Discussing your feelings in an open and accepting environment can be a healthy way to relieve feelings of stress and take some weight off your shoulders.

If you feel overwhelmed by how you feel and you don’t know who to turn to, there are other options to explore too. The Samaritans are available to speak 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their free helpline number is 116 123 and calls to this number do not appear on phone bills.

Prioritise your physical health too

Looking after your physical wellbeing is not only important for your physical health, it’s important for your overall wellbeing. Christmas is typically a time of over-indulgence, but what we eat and drink can impact how we feel – after all, what we consume powers our body and brain. While it’s important to treat yourself, it’s also crucial to make sure you are getting the vitamins and minerals you need too. Many people enjoy chocolate or a glass of mulled wine at Christmas; just make sure you balance this out over the festive period with healthier options too.

Icy cold weather and dark evenings isn’t the most motivating combination – in fact, it can make many of us feel like we want to crawl into our duvet and hide. However, keeping active and regularly exercising releases chemicals in our bodies that boosts self-esteem, helps us sleep better and makes us feel good. Whether it’s a winter walk, a refreshing swim or simply a dance to some music, try to keep moving throughout the dark winter months to keep your mind and body healthy.

At Naissance, we think it’s important to remember that mental health is never straight forward and managing your wellbeing can be challenging. While you may feel isolated at times, know that you are never alone.

We hope you have a safe, healthy and lovely Christmas.

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