BEN have put together their top tips about mental health at Christmas, as well as some advice on beating loneliness and their festive opening hours.
Mental health doesn’t take time off at Christmas, and with all the added stresses that can come with the festive season it’s very important to care for your wellbeing.
1. Plan ahead
Avoid unnecessary stress over the festive season by planning as much as possible in the run up to Christmas and being careful not to take on too much. You’re not being selfish by saying “no” to some things or asking for some help. For example, if you’re hosting Christmas dinner, could you ask some of your guests to bring a starter or dessert?
2. Make time for you
At Christmas it can be all too easy to get swept up into other peoples’ ideas of fun. It’s important to make sure that you do something you want as well – this is your holiday too! If you know this will be hard, try booking something in advance or setting a free day or two aside just for you.
3. Avoid comparisons
If you do decide to use social media over the festive season, avoid comparing your experience to those of your friends. Remember that most people only share the best bits of their lives online and you don’t know what’s going on behind the smiling selfies and prezzie pics!
4. Pace yourself
Give yourself time to relax over the Christmas period – don’t be afraid to take time out to go for a walk, listen to music or have a nap if you need it. If you’re hosting, try to plan this in advance.
5. Get outside
Going for a wintery walk – even if it’s just around the block – can be the perfect way to get some fresh air and exercise along with a change of place. Being in the same house for too long can get a bit intense, especially if it’s crowded, so a change of scenery will do everyone good!
6. Try to eat healthily
Whilst it’s fine to have a bit of culinary indulgence over Christmas, try to keep your diet as balanced as possible with lots of fruit and vegetables. This will help you to avoid energy lows that can have an effect on your mood.
7. Alcohol in moderation
While a bit of alcohol can make you feel relaxed, don’t forget that drinking too much can leave you feeling irritable and low. Drinking within the recommended guidelines means you’ll get to enjoy a Christmas tipple, whilst reducing the negative effects on your mood. Alcohol can also play a big part in arguments and disagreements, so it’s sensible to drink in moderation.
8. Get enough sleep
Feeling sleepy can also leave you feeling low, so try to keep to regular sleep patterns as much as possible over the Christmas period. We have lots of tips on getting enough shut-eye on our sleep blog.
9. Talk to someone
If you’re worried about Christmas or feel overwhelmed or under pressure, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. Have a chat to someone you trust. You can read our tips on talking about your mental health here.
10. Keep active
Exercise can be great for mental health and there are still ways to keep it up over Christmas! Have a boogie to some festive classics or head outside for a fresh wintery walk. If we’re lucky enough to have a white Christmas, you could even get some people together for a snowball fight or go sledging!
11. Christmas alone
If you’re spending Christmas alone, have a think about what you want to do beforehand. You may decide to curl up with a favourite movie, book yourself a getaway or arrange to go to a lunch. You could also consider volunteering (see point 12) which is a great way to meet new friends and give something back. We also have lots of inspiration on our blog at http://ben.org.uk/ben-blog/blog-loneliness-christmas/
It’s no secret – giving something back can help you feel good about yourself and there’s no more perfect time to volunteer than around Christmas. Head to do-it.org to check out local opportunities!
Support for mental health at Christmas
If you’re worried about your mental health at Christmas, you can find out our helpline opening hours and where to get support on our Christmas support post. It’s completely free to get in touch with us if you work (or have worked) in the automotive industry, or you are dependent on someone who is.