Many of us are worried about how the coronavirus pandemic may affect our mental wellbeing this Christmas. Among all the fun and festivities, Christmas can be an overwhelming time.

Below is some tips for coping during the festive period, and how you can minimise the effects that this time of year has on your mental health.

Mental Health is more than one day, it’s important all year round, 365 days a year. It’s important yesterday, today and tomorrow. This year has been a tough one for us all, prioritising mental health has never been more important than it is now & in these difficult times, it’s crucial to remember your mental health still matters!

Whether or not Christmas is part of your life, your mental health might be affected by it happening around you. It’s a time of year that often puts extra pressure on us, and can affect our mental health in lots of different ways.

For example, if you: feel alone or left out because everyone else seems happy when you’re not, wish you didn’t have to deal with Christmas because of other events in your life, feel frustrated by other people’s views of a ‘perfect’ Christmas, if these feel different to your, experiences want to celebrate with someone who’s struggling.

Tips for coping during Christmas

  • It’s ok to prioritise what’s best for you, even if others don’t seem to understand.
  • Think about what you need and how you might be able to get it.
  • Consider talking to someone you trust about what you need to cope

Plan ahead

Think about what might be difficult about Christmas for you, and if there’s anything that might help you cope. It might be useful to write this down.

Manage relationships

  • If other people’s questions are difficult, you could plan some answers in advance so you’re not caught off guard. For example, about your plans or how you’re doing.
  • Think about how to end difficult conversations. It’s ok to tell someone you don’t want to talk about something, or to change the subject. It might help to practise what you’ll say.

Look after yourself

  • Set a ‘start’ and ‘finish’ time for what you count as Christmas. Remind yourself that it won’t last forever.
  • Set your boundaries. Say no to things that aren’t helpful for you.
  • Let yourself experience your own feelings. Even if they don’t match what’s going on around you, they’re still real and valid.

Talking to other people

  • Let people know you’re struggling. It can often feel like it’s just you when it’s not. If Christmas is a hard time for you, it’s important to remember that you you are never alone, if you need someone to talk to, it’s okay to ask for help – a family member, friend or professional help! It’s okay to not be okay & it’s okay to talk!

Many of us may find Christmas difficult this year, for lots of different reasons.

It might be that you usually enjoy the festive period, but you’re worried about how coronavirus will affect things.

Mind has information on: difficult feelings about Christmas during coronavirus, ideas for celebrating Christmas during coronavirus & spending Christmas alone during coronavirus.

Reframing – How can you be your friend this Christmas?

  • Turn the volume down on the internal critic
  • Let yourself be the way you feel
  • Have a Christmas that works for you
  • Remember that you are loved. YOU are worth it
  • Give yourself permission to be you
  • Think of it as your rest day

Boundaries – what is your agenda this Christmas?

  • Have clear boundaries with people – parents / in-laws etc.
  • Balance your sense of social obligations against your need for self-care
  • Challenge the assumption that anything ‘needs’ to happen over Christmas
  • Give yourself permission to say no
  • Think about what your agenda for looking after your wellbeing this Christmas is, and prioritise it
  • Let family and friends know that you will need time out for quiet and calm

Actions – what self-care and day to day activities can you keep doing?

  • Sit in the garden in a warm coat and get a brief sunny boost
  • Meditate
  • Find time to yourself – take a long bath, or go on an errand, 5 minutes to yourself can be really helpful
  • If you struggle with sleep, stick as close as possible to your usual routine
  • Keep up with your self-care routine – exercise, sleep, socialise, volunteer, walk outdoors
  • Spend time doing charity and community work
  • Ask someone to keep an eye out for you and to check in on how you’re doing
  • Create your own experiences and happiness. Be indulgent. Pamper yourself

Planning – what do you want to do this Christmas?

  • With the additional constraints we face this year, planning will be even more important.
  • Write down what is really important to you
  • Prioritise and tackle things one at a time
  • Leave space for the unexpected
  • Be mindful of how your routine is about to change
  • Plan ahead and have some nice things booked in that you’d like to do outside of family gatherings
  • If Christmas with your family can be tough then plan something to look forward to with your ‘chosen family’ (friends, neighbours etc.) for afterwards

Christmas can be a time for celebration, but it can also be challenging for those going through difficult times. Whatever this festive period means to you, it’s important that everyone feels able to manage their mental health throughout the holidays.

Heads Together have got some more tips on looking after your mental health this Christmas.

Below are links to different organisations & charities.

Below are some Twitter accounts and a link to Hull support.

👉@MindHEY 👉@mentalhealth 👉@XenZone_UK

👉@samaritans 👉@heads_together 👉@NHSHullCCG

👉@HullAmc 👉@CHCPHull 👉@YoungMindsUK @PWS_LetsTalk

We want everyone to continue to be safe, look after yourself, those close to you and to follow government guidelines. We hope that everyone has a fantastic Christmas and brilliant New Year.

Sources: Mind, Mental Health Foundation, Heads Together