Looking after your mental health during the festive season

Christmas 2020 will be a celebration like no other. Having lived under restrictions for much of the year, it might be tempting to make up for lost time with extra presents, extra wine and get togethers with friends and family. We deserve it, right?

The weight of “doing it right” can be a heavy on our shoulders. The changing rules on households mixing over the festivities will be a lifeline for some. They will also bring anxieties and loneliness for others. Which family members will we see? And who will be missing? For some there will be empty chairs at the table.

Here, we share some top tips to manage the ups and downs of celebrating during a pandemic.

Managing expectations

It can be hard to accept when we feel something didn’t go as we expected. Having stayed away from loved ones for so long, the expectation to have the “perfect” Christmas can be huge.

Remember this has been a very different year for everyone. Remind yourself of this when you are giving yourself a hard time. Have compassion and talk to someone else who is having the same experiences as you. “I CAN’T, WE CAN “

Family dynamics

Feeling obligated to see family members can make us anxious. Maybe we’ll suffer a touch of FOMO (fear of missing out) when we know friends and family are getting together without us.

  • Give family/friends a call on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day
  • Call others while you have family over and remember who may be alone
  • If you have lost someone, the first of anything is difficult. If you feel up to it, set them a place and think about calling someone else who may have lost a loved one. You will help them and yourself at the same time.
  • Remember you may feel socially anxious after being isolating, this is normal.
  • Try walking, running or relaxing. Being outdoors changes your environment and gives you a break when things get too much.

Money worries

Along with the expectation of creating the perfect festive celebration comes the pressure to buy the perfect gifts. Ask yourself what will happen if you don’t get that gift. Remember you are enough.

  • Covid-19 has shown us true value and the importance of connection to others, family and community. Appreciate what you have rather than focussing on too much what you do not have.
  • If you cannot afford to buy the gifts you really want to, or are expected to, have an open and honest and open conversation about the reality of the situation. People tend to understand.
  • Getting into debit can be tempting. However, this can heighten anxieties, stress and pressure. Have a realistic cap on what you can afford. Talk to Citizen’s Advice’s Money Talk Team for free advice. 
  • If you know anyone who is struggling financially, give them a call and say “don’t worry about buying me anything this year, I value you being part of my life more than anything money could buy”.

If you worry about paying to heat your home, the Wise Group’s Home Energy Advice Team can help. 

Drinking and eating

‘Tis the season to be jolly n aw that’.  Alcohol can exacerbate feelings and emotions and a difficult year can stir up some unresolved issues. Here are a few nuggets to balance out the mince pies and drams.

  • Try to pace yourself and look after yourself and others. It is a good idea to eat while consuming alcohol as well as having plenty of water and soft drinks in between.
  • Go for a walk if you can, visit a local park of other area of interest. This will help if you feel you have been over doing it more than you would like with food and alcohol.
  • Keep New Year’s Resolutions realistic and achievable. Remember our normal way of coping has been restricted due to Covid-19.

Did you know?

Our online group therapy sessions are running throughout the festive period. Take a look at what’s available and book online

The Wise Group can support you to manage your mental health, find a job and support you with your energy bills. Read about how we can help.