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Christmas can be stressful - here are ways to mind your mental health during the holidays

It isn’t an easy time for everyone, so we’ve taken a look at how this Christmas can be better for everyone.

Image: Shutterstock/Pressmaster

SCREAMING CHILDREN, BUSY shops and family gatherings … the Christmas period can be an awfully stressful time for many people.

With so much going on and so many demands on your time and attention, it’s no surprise that many people find the festive period to be a tough time. 

It’s not unusual for people living with mental health conditions to feel overwhelmed by the festivities.

It’s also not all that unusual for people without one to feel overwhelmed either.

Many things that are part of our routines that we take for granted become disrupted by the change of pace in our lives during this month.

Mental Health Ireland points out that leaving all your preparations for Christmas until the last minute can cause unnecessary stress, but planning ahead can save you time and money. 

If you’re not a fan of crowded spaces, shopping online can help avoid some stress. 

Mental Health Ireland has shared some other tips on ways we can be kind to ourselves this Christmas.

Be careful with alcohol:

Alcohol is a depressant and drinking excessive amounts can cause low mood, irritability or potentially aggressive behaviour. By not exceeding the recommended number of safe units, you will be better able to sustain good mental and physical wellbeing.

Exercise:

Physical activity releases the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, which help you to relax, feel happy and boost your mood. By undertaking simple tasks such as cycling to work, walking in the park, or joining in with Christmas games, you can benefit from experiencing reduced anxiety, decreased depression and improved self-esteem.

 Get involved:

The festive period provides us with an ideal opportunity to talk to, visit or engage with the people around us. Face-to-face communication has been shown to improve our mental and physical wellbeing as this interaction produces the hormone, oxytocin, which can benefit our immune system, heart health and cognitive function.

Mental Health Ireland notes that a third of us have a close friend or family member we think is lonely.

Taking this into account, they suggest that a Christmas or New Year’s resolution to see friends and family more often can help boost your own mental wellbeing, along with that of others.  

Try to relax:

By exercising more regularly or practicing mindfulness – a combination of meditation, yoga and breathing techniques – you can help to both alleviate the symptoms of your stress and gain more control when coping with difficult situations.

Volunteer: 

Helping others is good for your own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress, improve your mood, increase self-esteem and happiness and even benefit your physical health.
Christmas is a good opportunity to volunteer for a charity or local community organisation and provide essential support and encouragement for others in need.

Get some rest:

There are several steps you can take towards achieving a better night’s sleep: attempting to get back in to your regular sleep routine as soon as possible after the party period, consuming less alcohol during the festivities, implementing regular exercise into your weekly routine, and taking measures to alleviate your stress.

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More information on how to care for your wellbeing can be found here.

If you need to speak to someone, contact: 

  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie
  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 18)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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