The Christmas period can be difficult for those living with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. For many, it’s ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ but for others, Christmas can often exacerbate their mental health conditions.
Feelings of stress and loneliness as well as financial worries and missing relatives can make Christmas really tough. For the month of December, AWARE will be launching an advent calendar with messages of support and tips for managing the festive period whilst living with depression, anxiety or bipolar. Stay tuned to our social media channels from 1st December. In the meantime, here are our top tips for coping with depression in the run up to Christmas.
Top ten tips for mental well-being in the run up to Christmas:
- Keep expectations realistic. Set yourself personal boundaries regarding the amount of money spent on gifts and the number of social events you attend. The ‘perfect’ idea of Christmas is one that makes you happy, not the one seen on TV or the front of a Christmas card.
- Try to limit your alcohol intake. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause low mood, irritability and could potentially cause aggressive behaviour. By not exceeding the recommended daily units of alcohol, you will be able to maintain better mental and physical well-being.
- Exercise. Wrap up and take yourself out for a walk. Lean to be mindful and take notice of the things around you such as the way the trees are blowing in the wind; how your feet feel with every step you take and the sounds of nature as you walk. If walking isn’t your thing, put some festive music on and dance around the house. Dancing is great way to boost your mood and get some steps in at the same time.
- Eat sensibly. For lots of us, Christmas is about one thing – FOOD! And that’s fine, but make sure you’re getting your recommended portions of fresh fruit and veggies which are all stimulants for good mood.
- Rest. The pressures and stress that come with Christmas can be exhausting. Take care of yourself by ensuring you get plenty of rest.
- Treat yourself. You may have bought other people’s gifts, but have you treated yourself? Do something that makes you feel good and enjoy it, even if it’s something as simple as taking yourself out for a coffee with a book.
- Be honest. If you don’t feel up for something, just say. You need to look after you and forcing yourself to be involved in social situations may make you feel worse in the long term.
- Take time for yourself. Make sure you take time to unwind and relax. Looking after yourself is important.
- Don’t isolate yourself. It is important that you don’t completely isolate yourself as this could intensify feelings of loneliness. Get out for a walk, visit a neighbour or volunteer for a local charity.
- Seek help. If you are finding Christmas difficult and you’re feeling overwhelmed, please seek help immediately. If you can, confide in someone close to you or call a 24/7 helpline such as Samaritans (116 123) or LifeLine (0808 808 8000) for advice.
To find out more information about depression and how AWARE can help you, please click here https://www.aware-ni.org/how-we-can-help-you