Managing mental health during the silly season

Christmas Stress

Managing mental health during the silly season

Here at Haven Psychology, we acknowledge that Christmas and the holiday season can put pressure on our mental health.

The season’s expectations can take their toll on many of us, so you’re not alone if you feel pressured during this time of the year. Here are four suggestions to help you cope with Christmas  during the coronavirus pandemic.

Compare yourself only to you

We are biologically wired to compare ourselves to others. In some ways, this practice makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. We are wired to make sure that we do what we can to help our tribe overcome any threats to our survival.

Sometimes comparing ourselves to others can be a good thing, motivating us to do better when we’re inspired by those we admire.

However, social media and marketing can make us feel like we’re not measuring up, which can damage our self-esteem.

Let’s try to limit our exposure to social media and TV advertising, to help us reduce unhealthy social comparisons. Instead, it may help to think about your values and how you’d like to celebrate (or not) in a way that fits with your budget and your energy levels.

Be kind to yourself if family gatherings are a challenge

We tend to put special significance on family time at Christmas time, perhaps even more so this year as Covid restrictions may again prevent families from gathering in person.

Using technology to schedule get togethers and perhaps using Zoom to open presents together or to play games can be some ways to manage the distance.

Not all family relationships are healthy, so spending time with family, especially if you don’t see each other often, can put further strain on some relationships. Being realistic about what you can expect from this time, setting boundaries and limiting time spent together mat help to avoid disappointments and arguments.

Engage in your local community

If you are feeling lonely or isolated at Christmas time, it may help to reach out to your local community, or to look out for organisations which may offer support. Local libraries or community social networking pages may provide information.

Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and can reduce loneliness as well.

Take time out for yourself

Christmas can be overwhelming, even if you don’t celebrate the festive season. Taking good care of yourself during this period is important. Eat in moderation, move your body daily, listen to music, or find a quiet place. Listen to your body and your mind, and try to practice compassion, both for yourself and others.

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