Christmas should be a time of relaxation and reflection. Often, though, it becomes the opposite. It can cause stress, fatigue, burnout, and even depression. Learn how to manage your mental health at Christmas so it can once again become a magical and joyous occasion.
The Struggle for Mental Health at Christmas
Christmas is supposed to be full of joy and happiness. However, the opposite is often true. Many people feel an intense pressure to host the most amazing Christmas, causing them to end up feeling inadequate. You may feel that your Christmas isn’t as good as everyone else’s.
This is a phenomenon known as social comparison. The more you compare yourself to others, the lower your self-esteem. At Christmas (and especially in the age of social media), this is particularly common.
Plus, most people still have to work during December. So you’re adding the stress of Christmas and New Year celebrations on top of the stress of work. Even during normal times, 85% of the population suffers from stress. Christmas is supposed to be relaxing but is often anything but.
All this is happening during winter when the days are cold and dark. It’s difficult to maintain a positive mood during the winter due to the lack of sunlight and time spent outdoors. Your body is likely to be lacking vitamin D, leaving you feeling unmotivated and fatigued.
There are many reasons why you may be struggling with your mental health during Christmas. However, you don’t have to accept this. Keep reading for three ways to ensure you keep on top of your mental health at Christmas.
Take it Easy
The first thing you need to do is give yourself a break. Remember, Christmas traditions are social constructions, not an essential part of life. You don’t need to have the biggest or the best Christmas. A small gathering with your closest loved ones is often enough.
Social media (and the social comparison that accompanies it) often makes us believe that we’re not doing enough. Most of the time, though, we are. Remember what Christmas is really about: appreciating loved ones and spending quality time together. As long as you’re doing that, you’re fine.
Mental health at Christmas is often damaged by stress. Find ways to lower your cortisol levels. Consider practising daily meditation, taking time off work, or going away for the weekend. When life gets too much, take a step back. Take the pressure off yourself and lower your workload.
Christmas will be best enjoyed when everyone feels relaxed. Taking on too much only leaves you irritable and creates a tense atmosphere. This Christmas, consider taking it easy. By doing less, you’ll be able to have a much more joyous celebration.
Be Charitable and Grateful
The commercialisation of Christmas has led many people to forget what they have, focusing instead on what they want. This Christmas, shift your focus. Start a gratitude journal where you can write down all the reasons to be positive about your life.
Expressing gratitude sends a dose of dopamine and serotonin to your brain. This is an instant mood-enhancer. These chemicals are normally provided by the sun. In winter, when your exposure to sunlight is lacking, being grateful can make up for this deficiency.
Sure, it’s cold outside but do you have a heated home, hot water, and a warm bed? If so, write it down. Think about those who aren’t so lucky. For the whole month of December, try to list three things every day to be grateful for. Then, any gift on top of this is only a bonus.
As you think of those less fortunate than yourself, consider focusing on charity this Christmas. Many people have lost sight of the importance of charity at Christmas and this is undoubtedly impacting the overall mental health of the world.
Giving feels good. Volunteering feels even better, with charity volunteers experiencing reduced blood pressure and increased life satisfaction. It’s a powerful mood-enhancer and stress-reducer. This doesn’t only boost your internal sense of wellbeing but physically improves the health of your body as well.
Prioritise Your Physical Health
Mental and physical health are strongly connected. While becoming happier won’t directly make you physically healthier, you can use your physical wellbeing to directly improve your happiness. That’s why physical health should be your main priority during this time.
Make sure you continue to exercise, getting outside and moving as much as possible. Perhaps more importantly, though, focus on your nutrient intake. Find a balanced and varied diet that works for you and maintain it to ensure your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Of course, Christmas is often a time of indulgence. Between all the turkey, roast potatoes, chocolate, and wine, you may be feeling deficient in the nutrient department. To prevent this from negatively impacting your mental health at Christmas, consider taking supplements.
Cognifuel is an easy solution for getting a big dose of vitamins every morning. It’s entirely natural and designed to boost energy, focus, and immunity while lowering stress. Look for products with plenty of vitamins B, C, and D.
We have so many expectations when it comes to Christmas that we’re often surprised when it leaves us feeling burned out and depressed. Winter is difficult enough and the holidays can only add more unwanted stress. Fortunately, though, you can manage your mental health effectively if you take the right steps.
Start by giving yourself a break and accepting that you don’t need to do everything. This should be a time of rest and recovery rather than stress and exhaustion. Furthermore, it’s a time to be thankful for all the positive aspects of your life and to be charitable to those less fortunate.
If you take these steps, you can ensure that you have positive mental health at Christmas. If you need a little help, give your brain an extra boost by increasing your intake of supplements around this time. That will help you have a truly joyous Christmas season.