How to maintain mental wellbeing over the festive season  


The pressure to have a good time over Christmas can feel overwhelming if you are struggling with mental ill health or emotional difficulties. Here are some suggestions for how to maintain your mental wellbeing over the holiday period. 


Avoid comparisons

Comparing ourselves with other people can have a big effect on how we feel. Usually to our detriment. And this is certainly true at Christmas. Social media and advertising can make matters worse, and lead to a treadmill of constantly comparing our lives with those of others. Limiting exposure to these channels will help. Instead you could try to focus on what you enjoy doing over the festive season and if it doesn’t fit in with what others are doing, so what? It’s your Christmas after all.  


Have realistic expectations


The recent government announcement that three households can come together over the festive period is very welcome news. We all place special significance on Christmas as a ‘time for family’ and the new rule means we will not miss out. However, it is important to ensure that our expectations do not place additional pressure on relationships with family members, many of whom we may not have seen for some time now. Being realistic about what we can expect from our time together will help avoid disappointment and any unnecessary arguments. 


Talk to someone

For many of us Christmas can be a lonely time. With such emphasis placed on social gatherings, those of us who are already feeling lonely can find our emotions intensifying leading to an increased sense of isolation. This is why making the effort to talk to someone over the holiday season is important and is the only way to break the cycle. This could be a brief chat with a colleague, acquaintance or support group member via Zoom. If you feel the need to talk to someone over the holiday season, Richmond Borough Mind is offering a variety of ways of making that connection including our new befriending project. You can find details of all the services we are running over the Christmas period here.  


Take a break

It is important to take some time out over the festive season if we find our stress levels rising. Lose yourself in something unconnected to Christmas. This could be going for a walk or run, reading a book, or just having a cup a coffee – whatever helps you to relax or unwind. Of course this can be hard to do if we have domestic responsibilities – looking after children or feeling obligated to entertain visitors – so it can help to pre-plan these breaks so when we’re flagging we can quickly access some ‘me time’.  


Don’t be too hard on yourself

We shouldn’t get overwhelmed by the plans of others. If you have to cancel some plans over Christmas, then so be it: you shouldn’t let other people make you feel guilty for prioritising your own wellbeing. One way of avoiding conflict like this is to not make unfeasible plans in the first place. Be honest with yourself: if you’re up for a full house and 24/7 partying from 23rd to 27th December then go for it, but if a few close family members for one or two days is more your style then stick to that. It’s better than spending the holiday apologising for being in your room the whole time! 


Stay in the moment

Practising Mindfulness or Yoga are great coping strategies to manage emotions that may get stirred up this time of year. If you find yourself feeling stressed, try to bring yourself back to where you are, slow your breathing down or try a progressive muscle relaxation exercise. Richmond Borough Mind is running our own Meditation and Mindfulness workshops over the Christmas period which are open to everyone. You can find details of how to join here.