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Christmas is a time to get together and celebrate with the people we love. However, Christmas can also be a very difficult time. Each year we see a surge in feelings of stress, anxiety and loneliness around this time of year. A lot of us feel under pressure during the Christmas period – to have the perfect Christmas, to buy the gifts that our children and friends want, to make our families happy.
It’s important at Christmas time to prioritise our mental health. We’ve put together these seven simple ways to look after your wellbeing this Christmas – small things that we can all do every day to help keep negative emotions and feelings of stress and anxiety at bay, so we can really enjoy this Christmas.
There is a strong link between gratitude and wellbeing. Gratitude is at the heart of mindfulness, and practicing it helps to reduce negative emotions and boost happiness and our feelings of self-worth. There is so much for be grateful for every day of our lives, but it’s especially so at Christmas time. Try to be aware of the people who are contributing positively to your life. Try to notice what you have, rather than what you don’t. Practicing gratitude will allow you to enjoy the holidays so much more and help to drive away negative emotions. We recommend keeping a gratitude journal, and writing three things that you are grateful for at the end of every day.
A daily Mindfulness exercise
Spending as little as ten minutes a day practicing Mindfulness can bring you uncountable benefits. It does wonders for our brain health, helps to curb feelings of anxiety, improves resilience, focus, and even helps to improve our physical health. Great exercises include body scanning (bringing your awareness to each part of your body) and mindful breathing (bringing your attention to your breath). They may sound simple, but they really will help you to feel more positive over Christmas.
You can see a few of our favourite mindfulness exercises on our Youtube Channel:
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Look after your physical health
Christmas is a time when it’s easy to overindulge in food and abandon our exercise routines. Eating your food mindfully (really focusing on the textures and flavours) will help you to really enjoy it, and may even stop you from overeating as you will be fully aware of the amounts that you consume. You’ll also feel a lot better if you get in some exercise over the holidays. It will help you to feel more relaxed and energised.
Connect with People
Feeling connected to other people is extremely important for our mental, emotional and even physical health. Positive interactions allow us to feel confident and valued. If you don’t feel up to going to big Christmas parties that’s OK – but make sure you have a friendly conversation with the people important to you by calling them or by going for coffee. If you don’t have any friends or family to spend Christmas with this year, try to ensure that you don’t feel isolated. Why not join a community event or do some volunteering? Volunteering is a great way to meet like-minded people and doing something that is really valued for others also gives our mental health a boost.
Go for a Mindful Walk
When the weather is grey and gloomy, this is sometimes the last thing we feel like doing! But taking a mindful walk is a great way to connect to the present moment, and is shown to boost mood and relieve symptoms of depression. Try to really notice what is around you and feel the wonder; the benefits to your brain health will last for the rest of the day.
Don’t compare yourself to others
With the rise of social media, we often compare ourselves unfavourably to other people, our friends, colleagues, celebrities; this is especially so at Christmas time when everyone is posting their family pictures and just-opened gifts. This valuing of ourselves relative to others can lead to a range of unhealthy emotions. It makes us feel dissatisfaction with our lives and convinces us that we are not good enough. If you are falling victim to social comparison or social envy, you may want to limit your time on social media and do some positive affirmation exercises. Think about your positive qualities and strengths and say them to yourself ‘I am…’. This will go a long way to undo any damage done by the comparison, and help you to feel good about yourself and the life you have.
Do something you love
The run up to Christmas can get extremely busy, but make sure you take regular times out to do something you really enjoy – perhaps a hobby such as a sport or craft class, or it could just be a long bubble bath! Small acts of self-care really do go a long way in helping us feel more positive and energised.
Remember that if you are feeling down or overwhelmed, it’s okay to say so and ask for help – even at Christmas time. If you have questions about anything in the article or if you feel that you are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out and talk to one of our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We wish everyone a merry Christmas (with lots of positive emotions)