Ways to look after your mental health this Christmas

For most people Christmas is a time of celebration, but for others it can be a stressful and testing time mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially. Here Lee Hawker-Lecesne MBPsS, Lead Therapist at The Cabin reveals how to look after your mental health.

man looking desperate sitting next to the Christmas tree

Tips for staying on top of your mental health in the festive season:

  • Stick to a routine
  • Make a financial plan
  • Dilute family tension
  • Avoid triggers
  • Drink in moderation or if you feel you need to protect your self-care, consider giving drinking a miss this year
  • Accept feelings of loneliness

 

Social anxiety at Christmas

With the global recession beginning to bite and the legacy of COVID still fresh in many people’s memories, Christmas will be an especially anxious time. Social anxiety can affect anyone to a certain degree, and those who feel elevated levels of anxiety could struggle at this time. The condition is often described as a fear of interaction with others that leads to heightened self-consciousness and the feeling of being negatively rated or judged. Common symptoms include feelings of emotional distress during social encounters, physical symptoms like shakiness, stomach cramps, sweating, dizziness or light-headedness and fear of embarrassing yourself or letting yourself down in public. 

 

Tips on dealing with social anxiety

  • Take a Moment for Yourself – if you feel panicky at the thought of dealing with other people, take a moment to relax. Stop what you’re doing and sit. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Try to focus your mind while regulating your breathing. Remind yourself that others are likely to feel just as scared as you.
  • Take Advantage of Your Support Network – Lean on your friends, family, or support network when times get tough. You’ll discover that a problem shared really is a problem halved. Letting others know when you’re worried about work events, parties, or simply interacting with others as you do the shopping often puts the situation into perspective. If you’re stressing attending a large event, see if you can take a friend. Having someone familiar to focus on will make you feel calmer.
  • Make a List – list circumstances where you feel most stressed or anxious, particularly those that make you feel like drinking too much. You may be surprised to find that interacting with others is easier than you imagined. You’ll begin to feel stronger and more able to overcome social anxiety without for example turning to alcohol to cope.

Lee Hawker-Lecesne MBPsS, Addiction Counsellor and Lead Therapist at The Cabin Ways to look after your mental health this Christmas

Christmas is widely advertised as a time to be spent with family which gives it unpleasant connotations for the many people whose family lives are not entirely stable. Addiction can act as a coping mechanism and this combination of factors creates a ‘perfect storm’ of problems which anyone on the brink of addiction is unlikely to navigate successfully.

Lee Hawker-Lecesne MBPsS, Addiction Counsellor and Lead Therapist at The Cabin comments:

“A lack of insight, judgement and acceptance are three of the most dangerous characteristics of an addiction – and these are key reasons why there is always a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking treatment services directly after the Christmas period. This increase is largely due to the aggregation of consequences of excessive drinking or drug use over the Christmas period”.

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