With Christmas just around the corner it is often a time for celebration, giving and receiving of presents, spending time with loved ones, and going out and having fun. But unfortunately, it can also be a time where you may feel overwhelmed, lonely, and sometimes on edge. Our regular routines are often thrown out of the window at Christmas and this can affect our mental health.
Many factors contribute to this, including unrealistic expectations, financial pressures and excessive commitments, all of which can cause stress and anxiety over the holiday period. Certain people may feel anxious or depressed around the winter holidays due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD); it certainly hasn’t helped this year with the COVID-19 pandemic, where a lot of people are having to face tough restrictions which may add to the stress, and make you feel more anxious and unable to cope with what lies ahead.
On my recent MHFA training, I personally found it very useful to understand that every individual has their own ‘Stress Container’ and that everyone has different coping strategies on how they deal with feelings of both stress and anxiety daily.
Please see below some helpful coping methods which help maintain letting the stress out of our container:
• Making time for yourself, whether that be keeping active and going for a walk, or going to the gym. These are all positive ways to relax your body and mind plus exercise is proven to lift your mood
• Getting adequate rest and enough sleep
• Talking to others i.e. asking for help or support from others
• Healthy eating – eating a regular, well-balanced diet will help you feel better in general and may help to control your moods. Your meals should be full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein which gives you more energy.
There are many helpful resources always readily available if you feel you need to seek further professional help and support, talking therapies can help with common mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression.
Useful therapy can be offered depending on what your symptoms are.
Here are a few examples taken from the NHS website on some useful therapies.
1. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a family of talking therapies all based on the idea that thoughts, feelings, what we do, and how our bodies feel, are all connected. CBT works to help us notice and challenge patterns of thoughts or behaviours so we can feel better https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/free-therapy-or-counselling for more information.
2. Guided self-help – where a therapist supports you as you work through a self-help course in your own time, either using a workbook or an online course.
3. Counselling for depression – a type of counselling developed specially for people with depression.
Stress and Anxiety at Christmas Time
By Joanne Swift
Mental Health First Aider