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A Quick Guide On How To Look After Your Mental Health During Christmas

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As Andy Williams sings, Christmas "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year", but it can also be the most overwhelming and many of us find it pretty tough on out mental health.

Alice Tozzi

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas", that's pretty clear. We are getting bombarded with Christmas adverts on the telly, people on social media are posting time-lapses of them decorating the tree, everyone is racing to get the best Christmas presents for their loved ones...

It can be extremely fun for the majority of people, but there are some who struggle during this particular time of the year. In fact according to YouGov, a quarter of the British population finds Christmas a challenging time, whereas one in four have struggled with anxiety and depression during the festivities.

Christmas is for most of people a happy, carefree, merry time to spend with friends and family, but there are also a lot of people who find this period very stressful, as they try to juggle responsibilities, meet expectations and cope with anxiety and depression. Here's a quick guide to help you through this overwhelming time.

Spend within your means

The pandemic hasn't been financially kind to many of us, and this means that you might feel that pressure to buy presents is even more intense this year. If you're among these people, then talk to the people around and make them understand that although you would buy the world, this year you will not go crazy and get the most expensive presents. Don't feel ashamed or guilty because there probably people who are in the same situation as you are - a card could do just fine. Perhaps this year instead exchanging gifts, you could suggest to donate to charity!

Plan ahead

Don't leave things till last! Try your best to get your shopping done as early as possible and order online in plenty of time to avoid delivery delays. If you leave your Christmas shopping to the last minute, this will put unnecessary stress on you! Help yourself get more organised by making a list of all the presents you need to buy and for whom, as well as any ideas of what they might like. Don't just browse gift guides on google or wonder around shops (when they will re-open) without a plan.

Be realistic

Yeah, we know, everyone has their own expectations of the perfect Christmas: this, however, can be a lot to take on for a lot of people. This year has taught us to focus particularly on what it's important for us. This year might not be possible to host a Christmas party or even the New Year's Eve party, but try to focus on what you can do! Connect with the people around you, put some more decorations around your house, perhaps get creative in the kitchen. Accept that this year will look different from other years, and try to embrace it.

Don't forget about your self-care

A very challenging and confusing year is about to end, so you might need extra time to be by yourself during Christmas - allow yourself to unwind and relax. if you've spent most of your time sat in front of your laptop in never-ending Zoom-calls with your work colleagues, then communicate with the ones who are closest to you that what you really need is time to breathe a little. A lot of people will be affected by burnout, especially the ones who have been working towards this end of year break.

Connect with others

If you're feeling isolated - you either live alone or you been protecting yourself - stay connected with the people you love the most through apps like Zoom, Facetime, Whatsapp, or Messenger. This will benefit you as well as others, so reach out to those who you know will find Christmas a challenging time, or are on their own. You could also choose the option to volunteer with organisations to help those who need it the most. Celebrating Christmas a bit differently this year might be what will bring you joy and content.

Ask for help

Don't be afraid to ask for help! If you're feeling overwhelmed as a friend or family member to help you out with some responsibilities. Don't do everything yourself - it's fine to be supported, but for this to happen, you need to ask for it. Asking for help it's a sign of strength! If there is no one around to help you, there are a lot of organisations you can get in touch with, such as MIND and CALM.

Get yourself a Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets are known for their calming benefits; research suggests that they can benefit people with anxiety, depression, autism, and insomnia, among other conditions. Weighted blankets apply Deep pressure Stimulation (DPS) which is a gentle hug that relaxes the nervous system. This gentle touch helps increase melatonin - the sleep hormone - and serotonin - the happy hormone, and reduces cortisol - the stress hormone - helping you recover form stress and anxiety, making you feel calmer and relaxed! So why not get yourself an early Christmas present?

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