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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 18 October, 2019

Christmas can be stressful - here are five ways to mind your mental health

With so much going on, it’s no surprise so many people find the festive period so stressful.

SCREAMING CHILDREN, BUSY shops, Christmas parties… those dreaded ’12 pubs’ crowds.

With so much going on, and so many demands on your time and attention it’s no surprise so many people find the festive period so stressful.

To manage that stress, the people at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services have come up with some ways people can nurture their mental health.

As Clinical Nurse Manager Debbie Van Tonder notes:

“In the run up to Christmas, many people find themselves swept away and overwhelmed by the presents, the cooking, the wrapping, the decorating… But by attempting to take a more mindful approach to festivities, stress-levels can be hugely reduced.”

What is ‘mindfulness’ you ask?

Essentially, it’s derived from a belief of ‘living in the moment’. It’s the practice of purposefully paying attention moment by moment, in a non-judgmental way to the things you do: learning to make time for yourself, learning to slow down and nurture calmness and self-acceptance.

In other words – it’s the opposite of everything going on in this photo…

shutterstock_78908107 Source: Shutterstock/Jim David

Here are five tips from St Patrick’s you might like to make note of, in the run-up to Christmas:

1. Make a mindful list

  • Instead of writing the usual ‘to do’ list that will inevitably include some needless activities, it may be a good idea to sit quietly and ask yourself what activities are going to benefit and nurture ourselves and others and what activities are more avoidable. Focus on what matters.

2. Mindful shopping

  • Mindfulness accepts that some experiences are unpleasant, including Christmas queues. See if you can become aware of your reactions when something holds up your progress.
  • Take a moment to ask yourself: What is going through my mind? What sensations are there in my body? What emotional reactions and impulses am I aware of?

3. Walk

  • Physical activity lifts your mood and can reduce stress. Go for a walk and pay attention to the sights, sounds and smells at this time of year. Walk with as much awareness as you can.

4. Breathe

  • When anxiety or stress gets on top of you, it can be difficult to remember why you should remain calm. By taking three minutes by yourself to meditate, stress-levels can be vastly reduced. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing, in and out.

5. Have compassion for yourself and others

  • Kindness can change an experience completely. The desire in all of us to alleviate suffering is part of what we celebrate at Christmas, the opportunity to share and give. With 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental illness at some point in their life, there is bound to be someone on your Christmas card list who is not feeling festive. Reach out to them. Be kind to yourself and others.

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