Mental Health & Christmas Period
Free your mind, and the rest will follow 💆
Sad to say, anxiety and Christmas go together like turkey and stuffing. It’s just not possible to get through the festive period mentally unscathed, when you’re trying to get so much done: getting your work finished in time, finding the time and money to do all the required shopping, and facing those tricky family difficulties situations that tend to crop up at this time of year.
But as with any stressful event (and we’re not putting Christmas up there with divorce and moving house, but it’s surely somewhere on the top 10), there are practical steps you can take to minimise the emotional fall-out.
First let’s look at work. You know those times when you’re attending (or hosting) a Christmas party, casually perching on a sofa arm sipping champagne while making relaxed smalltalk, but inside you’re screaming “OMG I should be at my desk right now! I have so many emails waiting! My deadline is tomorrow! Why am I at a party?”. This angsty scene could be a thing of the past if you pace yourself in the week before the last day of work. Prioritise your tasks – can’t some be left until after the holidays? Make a list and if it’s overwhelming, ask a colleague for help, or your manager for more time. Be honest with others about when you’re likely to get the work done.
Take proper breaks – this may seem counterproductive if you’re working super hard, but it’ll pay off in the long run because you make fewer mistakes. And try to stay as well-slept and wholesomely fed throughout, so you’re firing on all cylinders.
Now for the more general malaise that can unfortunately overcome us at Christmas. Perhaps it’s a reaction to the expectation of happiness, but we often feel flat at this time of year. Even those treaty foods and fun, sparkly clothes we look forward to indulging in all year can lose their shine. So take a tip from the mindfulness experts and try really savouring something. It could be the taste and feel of a piece of chocolate, the feel and sound of a festive task like gift wrapping or making a cake. Just try to notice everything about the way it feels. Even if it doesn’t feel quite convincing at the time, you’ll feel calmer later just for taking a few minutes out of your usual busy thoughts.
Also, remember to care for yourself as you would care for someone you love. Beyond eating healthily and going for regular walks, make time for those special little experiences you know make you feel good: a hot bath, a great blow-dry, a good long chat on the phone with a friend.
If all else fails, remember that this too shall pass. Christmas comes but once a year – and that can be a good thing! So you have to spend a week driving all over the country spending time with people you don’t much want to see, while constantly feeling horribly full or hungover. Is that actually so bad? Adjust your expectations and count your blessings: you have a warm home, the company of others and food to gorge on.
Speaking of which, we’re off to have a mince pie...