10 Tips For Struggling With Your Mental Health At Christmas

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Christmas is traditionally one of the most celebrated times of the year, it’s a time for gathering with family and friends, gift giving and enjoying the festivities.

Although, all of this can take its toll on our mental health for a variety of reasons, especially for those who already suffer with mental illnesses.

This year due to the cost of living crisis and other economical struggles taking place in the world right now Christmas may be even harder.

If you are finding this time of year difficult and are suffering with the holiday blues, don’t worry there are things that can help you feel better.

We’ve put together this post with 10 tips to help boost your mental health, carry on reading to find out.

Mental health Christmas

Why Is Christmas Difficult?

There are many reasons why people may find Christmas a particularly difficult time of year, with research suggesting that a quarter of the population state that it makes their mental health worse.

Some of the reasons for struggling at Christmas could be:

  • Financial difficulties
  • Experiencing grief and missing people who aren’t around
  • Worrying about gift giving
  • Loneliness
  • Pressures to enjoy yourself
  • Anxiety about spending time with people
  • Comparing your experience to others
  • Not feeling accepted
  • Due to abuse or trauma
  • Reminded of past memories
  • Health worries such as COVID-19
  • Religious reasons or other factors

For those who already struggle with a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder or any other, their symptoms may worsen and intensify during the holiday period.

Whatever the reason is for feeling low at Christmas, you’re not alone in your struggles and there are things that can help.

Christmas difficult mental health

Tips To Help Your Mental Health

Everyone’s reasonings for finding this time of year tough is different, but there are some tips you can take on board to help control the way you’re feeling as well as the situation you’re faced with.

Below you can find out our 10 tips for helping with negative emotions and improving your mental health at Christmas.

Tips To Help Your Mental Health 

1. Be Open About Your Feelings

If you’re finding Christmas this year difficult, it’s best to be open about the way you’re feeling.

It can be hard to admit how you really feel, especially if everyone else around you seems to be excited and loving this time of year, but being honest about your mental wellbeing is a step in improving your mood.

Struggling and pretending like everything is fine isn’t the way to go about things, you don’t have to keep it all to yourself.

You might feel like you don’t want to burden anyone or ruin the festivities, but we’re sure those in your life would much rather support you in any way that they can than.

If you can, open up to someone you trust within your support network.

You’ll probably feel a weight off your shoulders and feel less pressure to pretend like you’re okay when in fact, you’re not.

You may find that others open up to you about how they’re struggling too, so it can trigger important conversations to be honest about your mental health.

Be Open About Your Feelings 

2. Don’t Put Pressure On Yourself

There are so many pressures at Christmas time whether it’s the added stress of shopping and getting presents for others, preparing a Christmas dinner or the social obligations during the holiday period to name a few.

It’s safe to say all of this can impact our mental health and increase our anxiety and stress levels.

Our tip for you is if you’re not feeling up to celebrate or take part in certain things over the holiday period, then don’t feel like you have to.

Prioritise yourself and your wellbeing by doing Christmas on your own terms, whether it’s choosing to stay home rather than attending a big get together or opting not to see certain people, you don’t have to endure things you don’t want to.

If you choose to spend Christmas how you want to rather than conforming to what people want you to do or what you feel is expected, you’ll probably feel a big sense of relief.

Plus, you’ll enjoy the holiday rather than forcing yourself to do things that mentally exhaust you!

After all, Christmas means something different to everyone so, think about how you’d like to spend it and what would make you feel happiest.

If that’s sitting on the couch watching films and enjoying some nice food and drink rather than attending a big party, then so be it.

Christmas pressure

3. Manage Your Expectations

An important thing to do to look after your mental health at Christmas time is to manage your expectations about the holiday.

Expectations are always high to make Christmas an amazing time, and you may feel under pressure trying to ensure that everything goes right.

As we said, everyone’s idea of the festive period is different so your celebration might vary to other people’s or it might not go as you had planned, and that’s okay.

Try to limit your idea of the ‘perfect Christmas’ and instead take your holiday experience this year for what it is.

Most of the time we set out an unrealistic expectation of how the holiday is going to be and are left disappointed when it doesn’t go how we imagined, keep your ideas of things simple!

Vice versa, if you’ve built up the idea that everything is going to go horribly wrong and that you won’t enjoy yourself, you never know.

Realistically, things probably won’t work out how you imagined and you might end up having a good time, your anxieties could just be getting the better of you!

Manage your expectations Christmas

4. Look After Yourself

Another way you can boost your mental health and avoid feeling overwhelmed this Christmas is to practise self care.

We know, it can be all too easy to forget to look after yourself when you’re feeling down and there’s so much pressure around you or perhaps you feel like there’s no point caring for yourself.

Although, no matter how hard it feels, it is important to be kind to yourself as this has the power to improve the way you’re feeling.

Some simple things you should do to take care of yourself this festive season is to ensure you’re eating a well balanced diet, drinking enough water, maintaining a good sleeping pattern as well as fitting in time to exercise.

Try to treat yourself with the same compassion as you would to other people, you wouldn’t beat them up so don’t do it to yourself.

No matter how self care looks to you, remember that it’s an important step to take control over your mental health and to maintain a positive mental attitude.

Christmas self care

5. Stay Connected

Christmas can increase feelings of isolation and loneliness for a variety of reasons.

When struggling with your mental health, it can be easy to isolate yourself from others, but it’s important to try and stay connected with those in your life.

So, reach out to your support network even if you’re not going to be seeing them over the Christmas period, perhaps because you’re staying in student accommodation.

Whether it’s by giving family and friends a phone call, sending out messages or even catching up over social media, Christmas is a time to spend with others, even if there’s distance in the way!

Although, we would suggest being wary of social media as a way to stay connected, as sometimes it can actually make your mental state worsen.

Such as, if you’re spending a lot of time on social media you may begin to compare your holiday experience to others, remember people only share their best bits they could be struggling too!

stay connected Christmas

6. Manage Financial Worries

As we mentioned earlier, there are many reasons why Christmas can impact our mental health, and financial worries play a big factor in this.

Due to the cost of living crisis, Christmas is putting even more of a financial strain on people this year, so it’s no surprise that this can leave us feeling stressed and worrying about paying for things.

These worries can increase and people can even get themselves into debt struggling to afford the holiday season.

Managing financial worries will vary depending on different circumstances, but there are some ways you can help with worrying about money at Christmas time.

Some examples include sticking to a budget so you don’t overspend and buy more than you need, as well as reaching out for financial support if you need it, whether it’s from your university or the government, there are people you can speak to.

Remember, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t afford Christmas this year.

financial worries christmas

7. Be Wary Of Unhealthy Habits

When struggling with your mental health at Christmas, you may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to cover up how you’re truly feeling.

Such as, you may turn to alcohol to combat your struggles and distract you from how you’re actually feeling, but in reality this will just make you more stressed.

It’s okay to drink in moderation, but if you are finding this time of the year difficult and hitting a rough patch with your mental health, try not to over indulge with Christmas tipples.

Vice versa, if you feel pressured to eat or drink things you don’t really want this festive season, don’t feel obligated to do so just because everyone else around you is doing so.

What we eat can also have an impact on how we feel so be mindful of what you’re eating over the festive season, a well balanced diet is still important!

unhealthy habits mental health christmas

8. Have Some Down Time

Whilst there are tons of traditions and things to do when it comes to the holiday period, you should still make sure to fit in time to do things you enjoy and take a break, even if it feels like there is so much to do.

Rest is vital for both our physical and mental health and we’re not talking about just sleeping here, we’re talking about fitting in time to chill and re-energise yourself.

Festive burnout is super common and can leave you feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and stress.

To combat these feelings and to prioritise good mental health, spend time watching your fave films or TV shows or practise your hobbies or interests.

Another way to refuel yourself is to spend time outdoors and switch off from both your devices and the stressors around you!

down time mental health christmas

9. Volunteer

It may be hard to think about supporting others when you’re feeling down yourself, but volunteering is a great idea if you’re feeling lonely over the holidays as you can connect with others.

Helping those in need and supporting causes within your community is also good for improving your mental health at Christmas.

If you feel up to it, explore the opportunities within your area and see if there’s anything you can donate your time to.

Although, try not to do things that are going to stress you out further, if you have enough on your plate then don’t worry!

volunteering christmas

10. Reach Out For Help

Our final tip for struggling with your mental health at Christmas is to source out help if you need it, it’s not possible to do everything by yourself after all.

It might be a busy period but there are people and resources you can utilise.

If things are getting too much and you’re struggling to cope with your wellbeing, don’t be afraid to reach out for support whether it’s through contacting your GP or speaking to your university.

mental health christmas support

Remember, Christmas is just one day of the year, if you are struggling then there are ways to make yourself feel better. Hopefully our 10 tips will prove helpful to you!

Below are some helpful mental health resources you should check out:

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