mental health at Christmas

How to prevent low mood this holiday season

Christmas should be a time of joy and laughter, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

It’s usually the time when depression, anxiety and suicide levels peak as people feel overwhelmed and stressed out.

Financial pressure, family dynamics, unrealistic expectations, too many social functions and the stress of hosting or travelling to festive gatherings make Christmas one of the most stressful times of the year.

So, how can you prevent low mood this holiday season? Here’s our Christmas mental health survival guide.

Your mental health at Christmas

Looking after your mental health at Christmas is essential. With a little pre-planning and streamlining, you can set up your festive celebrations, so they work for you and not against you.

If there are certain triggers for you such as an argumentative family member, ensure you avoid any situations where your mental health may be compromised.

Don’t say yes to all the parties. Choose a select few that you want to attend not the ones you feel obliged to.

If the constant traveling to other people’s houses gets you down, invite everyone to you, and ensure they bring a plate.

The financial pressure of buying gifts is unnecessary. Instead of buying your entire family a gift, opt for Secret Santa. The same goes for your group of friends. It takes away the burden and worry of who to buy for and how much to spend as you get allocated a person and a budget. Plus, it’s more fun!

How to manage mental health at Christmas

  • Talk about your feelings and don’t bottle things up. If you’re feeling low or having a tough time, chat with your friends and family about it. You’ll be surprised by what support they can offer. 
  • Ask for help. If you’re tasked with Christmas dinner this year and it’s all getting too much, ask people to chip in and do their bit. Get family members to bring a plate, assist with the food shopping, or get to your place early so they can help you prep.
  • Eat well. Christmas tends to be a time when we gorge on high sugar, fat-laden foods. These types of food cause our blood sugar levels to go out of whack and our mood to plummet. Stock up on plenty of fresh fruit and veggies and add some healthy options to the Christmas dinner list.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol. A couple of social drinks is fine but excessive drinking can lead to a depressed mood and anxiety. Alcohol affects your brain chemistry, lowering your serotonin levels, causing feelings of sadness.
  • Unplug and take time out. Avoiding social media and having a break from technology over the Christmas period can do wonders for your mental health. Constant scrolling through picture-perfect Instagram feeds or overzealous Facebook posts are unhealthy and cause unnecessary stress.
  • Get to bed on time. With lots of parties and festive cheer on the agenda, getting to bed at a reasonable time can be a challenge. Poor sleep has a knock-on effect on your mental health and energy levels. If you have a late-night, make sure you catch up on zzz the next night to avoid your mood plummeting.
  • Set boundaries and keep control over your life. Only you know what is good for you and what will make you happy. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and avoid those who are toxic. Trust yourself and know it’s ok to say no sometimes.
  • Make time for self-care. Plan things you enjoy and gift yourself with time to do things just for you.

A stress-free Christmas to remember

With a little planning and forward thinking, you can create a Christmas that supports your mental health, making it enjoyable. Talking things through with friends, asking for help when needed and taking time out to relax are essential for reducing overwhelm and stress levels. Make sure you eat well, get enough sleep and go easy on the bubbles.

Here’s to a good Christmas!

over to you

If you liked this article, please share with anyone feeling stressed this Christmas.