If you’re feeling low then we’ve put together some top tips to cope at Christmas time.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or so we’re told.
There’s so much pressure at Christmas time for us all to be merry and bright – and an unspoken stigma towards anyone who might not feel so jovial.
But we all know that life doesn’t always work out as we think it should. If you’re suffering from depression or struggling mentally that doesn’t just go away as we hang up the tinsel. The pressure to have a happy Christmas can actually worsen symptoms,
But how do you get through the festive period if you’re feeling low?
Look after yourself
Nail the basics. Make sure you get enough sleep and rest. Eat well, drink enough water and get all the breaks you can.
It can be harder to eat well and sleep well when you’re struggling. But the more you can, the better you’ll fare.
It can help to ask your partner or a family member or friend to keep an eye out and help you nail the basics too. Whether that means cooking for you, looking after the kids so you can rest or helping with nursery/school runs so you have less on your plate.
If someone offers to help – let them. If nobody does – ask!
Even during the festivities make sure you carve out some time to breathe. If you need a walk alone or a nap then take it. If you need to put on a Christmas movie so the kids will zone out and you can snooze – do it!
And don’t feel guilty. Self-care is never selfish. When you know you’re already struggling it’s vital.
Use the FLAME way to build self-care into your days as Christmas approaches
How to cope at Christmas – Talk to someone
This one goes for whenever you feel down but is more important at this time of year. The task of planning for, shopping for and getting ready for Christmas can feel overwhelming at the best of times. And almost impossible if you’re struggling.
Talk about how you are feeling. Don’t bottle it up. Talk to your partner, your family, your friends. Opening up about how you are struggling is hard but it always helps. Talking will ease the pressure and help you gather support to help you cope throughout the busy Christmas period.
You might feel that you need to talk to a counsellor or a mental health professional to make sure you have the support you need.
Seeking help is not a weakness. It’s a brave and important step.
If you are feeling so low on energy that you can’t even begin to find out how you can get help then ask a family member or friend to help you find places to contact. We have some great charities and organisations that can help on our PND pages.
Cut back on presents
We all know that there’s often too much spending and too many gifts at Christmas. And thinking of what to buy and shopping for them adds to the pressure. Make a list. Make it twice (scrapping all the extras) and make Christmas shopping easier.
If you can’t face the shops, buy online. Support local online shops if you can.
And – if your Christmas list is as long as your arm and it stresses you out – maybe now is the time to scale back on who you buy for. Maybe do a Secret Santa for adults in the family so you all but one gift instead of one for each other?
Scale it all back on the food will help with coping at Christmas
The lead up to the big day is such a hectic time. There’s just so much to plan and do and – especially if you’re feeling low – it can feel overwhelming.
One of the things you can do is to scale it back. You don’t have to go overboard and drive yourself to exhaustion prepping for the best Christmas ever. It won’t do you any favours and it won’t help your family either.
If you’re cooking – remember that essentially Christmas dinner is just a posh roast. And nobody will care if you cut corners. By all means – if you’ve got the time and the energy – make your own cranberry sauce and roast potatoes. But – if you’re feeling frazzled cut ALL the corners. Buy pre-made sauces and trimmings. Go all out and buy easy bung-in-the-oven shortcuts. Delegate and ask guests to bring a dish each so that there’s less pressure on you.
One of the best ways to cope at Christmas – Be brave enough to say ‘No’
Decide how you can cope at Christmas this year and say ‘No’ to anything you know will push you too much.
If you can’t face lots of social occasions – then don’t go.
If you’d rather have a quiet family Christmas at home then make it happen.
Last year – with the Covid restrictions – taught us all a lot about how Christmas doesn’t have to be a huge event.
And how there are ways to connect without even leaving your house. If you want to forgo a big family get together and travelling then suggest you all meet on Zoom instead for a family quiz.
It’s hard to say ‘No’ but – if you’re struggling – it can be the best thing for you. AND your family.
How to cope at Christmas: Limit your social media intake
Your Instagram feed will be chock full of images of families enjoying the ‘perfect’ Christmas. We all know that they’re just snapshots. And that they don’t always tell the full story. but being bombarded by images of the perfect family Christmas when you’re feeling low can make you feel even more miserable.
They say comparison is the thief of joy. But, if you scroll through social media, it’s hard not to compare. And to come away feeling worse than you did before you checked your feed.
If you’re struggling try and limit your social media intake. If you’re really brave – delete it altogether – at least during the Christmas period.
When there’s an empty place at the Christmas table
One of the reasons you might be struggling this Christmas is because you’ve lost a loved one. At this time of year, it can feel harder than ever.
Give yourself permission to grieve. It can be really really hard. But it’s not something that you should conceal and keep to yourself.
“This can be as simple as ‘speaking’ to the person, silently or out loud, visiting their grave, or a place that was special to them. These things can be done alone or with friends or family. You may have photos or memories which you can share to bring you together.”
Marie Curie suggests finding ways to pay tribute in your day:
“Take the chance to talk about your loved one. You could light a candle by a photograph or release a balloon in memory.”
Pure and simply: you should listen to your own gut about how you would like to process the loss. Whether you would prefer going to your local church and being with a community as you hang an ornament with your loved ones name on it, or if you would prefer to quietly grieve in familiar territory like your own home -it’s up to you. Do what feels right in your heart.
And when you need to process it, try not to hold back the tears and keep a brave face for your family, as they can be a big source of comfort at this time. We need to remind ourselves that It’s okay to be facing a difficult time in your life and to feel sad about it. Even if it happens during the festive period.
Remember: It’s okay to be sad at Christmas
If you’re feeling low – for whatever reason – Christmas can be a hard time. The pressure, the enforced jollity and the overwhelm of all you have to do to get ready for the big day can be immense.
Talk to family and friends. Or perhaps a counsellor or medical professional.
And remember – it’s one day. Just one day.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll get through it.
Reach out. Take care. Be kind to yourself.
And – let others look after you too.