We all recognise that Christmas and New Year are times of great celebration, providing people with an opportunity to come together, exchange gifts, share memories and show friends and family how important they are to us.
However it is almost impossible to get through Christmas without experiencing some level of stress.
For many, it can be a time that brings financial pressure, stress, loneliness and can remind us of sad times in our lives.
There are practical steps which we can take all year round to look after our own and others’ mental health. They include:
- Not over indulging
- Taking time for relaxation
- Fitting in time for some exercise, such as a gentle walk
- If you can, try to be around other people
Take care of yourself
Self-care is an important step to help manage difficult feelings.
When things seem a struggle, it’s understandable that bigger self-care tasks can be difficult. Things which may help to improve this include:
- Trying to schedule activities and planning out the week, maybe breaking days into manageable sections.
- Trying to think of things you should do to take care of yourself that you maybe haven’t had time to do recently, and ask yourself which of these are achievable.
- Remember it is OK to start with small objectives and, when you feel more able, plan more challenging tasks.
- Be kind to yourself. Self-compassion is important. We often have high expectations and feel frustrated if we don’t meet them.
- Some days you may feel more capable and productive than others. At other times you may feel overwhelmed. This is OK and affects everyone at some point in their lives.
- It is important to show yourself compassion and kindness. Be more forgiving of yourself when you feel overwhelmed. That way, you can get back to feeling better quicker.
- It can be helpful to write down positive things about yourself when you feel good and then go back to them when you are having a tough day, to remember how good you can be.
There is only one you. Take care of yourself.
Tragically, almost one person every week dies by suicide in North Lanarkshire. Males between the ages of 34 and 54 are almost three times more likely to take their own lives.
Keeping Christmas stress to a minimum
- Aim for “enjoyable”, not “perfect”. Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Don’t try to make it perfect.
- Recognise that being together 24/7 may cause tensions, and allow for this.
- Minimise “are we nearly there yet?” issues when travelling. It is disappointing to make travel plans in order to promote family togetherness, only to get to the destination feeling stressed. Include pre-planned rest stops, drinks and snacks, music and books and lots of activities for the kids in the back. Travel off-peak if possible.
- Plan out what you need to do over the festive season.
- Make plans with services you are currently receiving, such as health and social care workers, support workers or peer supporters.
- Find time for yourself. Don’t spend all your time providing activities for your family and friends. If you’re a parent, remember you need to have fun, and aim for a balance of activities that meets everyone’s needs.
- Planning and teamwork. Involve the family in plans and in the workload, Children can have some say, and parents’ needs count as well.
- Don’t try to do it all.
Our advice is brought in conjunction with North Lanarkshire Council.
If you’re reading this and feel low, we want you to know that everybody feels low sometimes.
We all face difficult situations in our lives. That applies to everyone, whether they are our friends and family, supporters and even footballers.
Suicide is not the answer. There is always another way. Help is available. You are not alone. We know it is not always easy to talk but you are contemplating this, please open up to someone.
You can call the Samaritans on 116123, Breathing Space on 0800 838587 or Childline on 0800 1111. Further advice is also available from North Lanarkshire Suicide Prevention.