The Effects Of Christmas On Mental Health
Historically, Christmas is a time for happiness, celebration, and family. However, the holiday season can also be emotionally draining. Read on to learn more about mental health concerns around the holidays and strategies to help you cope.
Stressed Out at Christmas?
There’s no denying that Christmas can be stressful. Cooking, shopping for gifts, entertaining youngsters, decorating your house, cleaning up after family events – the list goes on and on. There’s also the added weight of money concerns and feelings of guilt if you can’t afford to purchase the gifts your loved ones want.
Social media may also contribute to holiday stress. You might end up comparing yourself to others and feel like your “perfect” Christmas day is a failure.
Christmas Loneliness and Grief
Many of the social demands of Christmas can contribute to feelings of emptiness or loneliness. If you’ve lost someone in your family, loneliness and sadness can make Christmas something to endure rather than enjoy. Even with the support of friends and family, emotions of isolation and loneliness are common.
The Pressure To Be Happy
The cultural expectation that everyone should be happy during Christmas can be distressing for those struggling with mental health issues. They may feel compelled to hide their genuine emotions, leading to increased anxiety.
Coping with Christmas: Mental Health Management Strategies
Fortunately, there are things you can do to manage Christmas stress and any other mental health concerns you may be experiencing over the holiday season.
Stay away from unwanted societal comparisons
Social media and consumer advertising can worsen feelings of inadequacy and harm your mental health. Limiting your exposure to social media and television advertisements over the holiday season, concentrating on the positives of family time and any other social activities you have planned can improve your mental well-being.
Have reasonable expectations for family gatherings
During the holiday season, the idea that it’s a “time for family” can place additional strain on already tense relationships, especially among relatives who may not interact frequently or have a strong bond. To ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience, it’s essential to maintain a realistic outlook on what you can expect during this time. This approach not only helps you avoid disappointment, but it also minimises the likelihood of encountering typical Christmas dinner table disagreements.
Participate in your neighbourhood
Christmas may be a time of heightened loneliness for some people. This loneliness may be especially terrible for individuals who have experienced grief.
If you’ve just lost a loved one, it can be tough to face the first holiday season without them. Many charities give assistance over Christmas, so finding out what is available in your area may be a tremendous source of support. If you’re spending Christmas alone this year, volunteering at one of these events might help you feel less lonely and give you a sense of purpose.
Take a breather
Allow yourself the chance to take a break and relax, especially when your stress levels rise. Go for a stroll, grab a cup of coffee, or listen to music to help you unwind. If your holiday schedule is particularly busy, plan breaks ahead of time. You could arrange for your partner to take the children out for a few hours to give you a break.
Set Realistic Expectations
Acknowledge that it’s okay not to have a perfect Christmas. Focus on creating meaningful moments rather than trying to meet unattainable standards.
Reach out to friends, family, or support groups if you’re struggling with mental health issues. Sharing your feelings with someone you trust can provide emotional relief.
Don’t reflect on the previous year
Because Christmas marks the conclusion of the calendar year, it’s common to reflect on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Instead of focusing on how the year did not live up to your expectations, concentrate on the positives and set goals for the coming year.
Remember the True Meaning of Christmas
Reflect on the real significance of Christmas, which includes love, compassion, and togetherness. Focus on fostering meaningful connections rather than material possessions.
Christmas is a time of mixed emotions for many, and it’s crucial to recognise and address the impact it can have on mental health and well-being. By understanding the challenges, taking breaks, seeking support, and setting realistic expectations you can enjoy the holiday season.
Contact Medical Society to find out about our Mental Health support services. We can assist you and your family, and more useful tips on how to improve your mental well-being during the holiday season.