We asked Jayne, our co-founder and wellness coach/consultant, what we could focus on for our mental health over the Christmas holiday season, and this is what she had to say.
Christmas has become a ‘big’ and overwhelming event for many, with pressures coming from all directions not least through our social media accounts, as we see the holidays performed to perfection.
We often speak about normalising and caring for our mental health and practising self-care, but we can feel pressured to put all this on the back burner to please others at Christmas.
Setting boundaries and asking for what you need isn’t easy, so I wanted to share a few ideas ahead of the big day. I also wanted to suggest that each of us consider how we can be more caring, kind, inclusive and compassionate this Christmas season.
Maybe it’s all about routine?
Keeping to a routine at Christmas isn’t being self-indulgent, it can be a necessity for many people, because these routines offer them a sense of safety, and comfort and lessen anxiety because they are familiar to them and their nervous system.
The problem is often how to approach this subject with the worry of how this will be received weighing heavily, which can lead to avoidance and further suffering because of the potential for conflict.
A supportive friend, family member, partner or professional could help you by talking the problem through. Then they can help you to develop a plan that will help put your needs first. Perhaps even helping start the conversation so that you don’t have to approach this alone.
It can also help to be prepared and plan for any difficult emotions you may experience if the news isn’t well received and this doesn’t mean you are in the wrong. Remember, you’ve taken a brave step to support your mental health this year and in years to come.
A season of goodwill
It’s the season of goodwill, and food, drink and making merry are deeply associated with the human need to belong and connect at times of celebration.
If you have decided to eat and drink, or not, in support of your beliefs and values or for your health, this is entirely your choice and in no way deserves judgement.
The fact is that each of us can make a difference to how someone experiences their holiday this year by being accepting and supporting different decisions and choices.
And finally, not everyone has large families and many friends they can spend Christmas with. Or perhaps for personal reasons, someone you know chooses to spend their time alone or doing something different, away from traditional celebrations.
Being human, we need connection to thrive but trauma and anxiety, amongst other things, can make connection difficult and even feel dangerous. So how much, how often, and where the connection is made, can vary greatly and individual needs deserve to be acknowledged and respected.
The decision about how to connect deserves to be respected and perhaps our nearest and dearest choose to volunteer for a good cause, or decide to spend the holiday far away from the usual celebrations, or even choosing to connect online.
So, however you do or experience Christmas this year, may it be filled with kindness and compassion, for both you and others.
Volunteering – Check your local area for a variety of volunteering opportunities.
Supporting mental health and human need
Samaritans – call 116 123 for free
Scope – Equality for disabled people.
The Silver Line – A helpline for older people
Young Minds – supporting the mental health of young people and those living with ADHD
Switchboard – LGBT+ helpline
Grief and Loss
Grief Encounter – Supporting bereaved children and young people
Social Media – Comedian, Sarah Millican, started the hashtag #JoinIn, which encourages people to chat on X (formerly Twitter) on Christmas Day so no one is left alone.