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Mental Health at Christmas

When most people think of Christmas, they think of a joyful, happy time.

However, for lots of people in today’s world, Christmas brings with it a long list of anxieties, pressures, and stresses.

In fact, according to a YouGov survey [1], a third of all people aged between 45 and 54 feel significantly worse during Christmas.

Why people may suffer from negative mental health during Christmas

Below, we list some of the reasons why some may experience issues with mental health during Christmas:

Money Worries

Christmas has become increasingly more expensive.

With children demanding expensive gifts, and an increase in inflammation meaning that your Christmas dinner might be more expensive this year, lots of people are bound to feel stressed about money this Christmas.

This can lead to stress, depression and anxiety.

Social Isolation

Social isolation plays a huge role in depression. If you have a small friendship group or are of a certain age, then these feelings might be amplified during Christmas.

Additionally, Christmas can be incredibly hard for people suffering from social anxiety, making them want to withdraw and retreat.

Grief

Likewise, feelings of grief are also amplified during the festive period. Whilst Christmas is an opportunity to spend time with loved ones for many, it can be incredibly difficult and emotionally challenging for those who are still struggling with the loss of a loved one.

Consuming too much alcohol

Alcohol itself is a depressant. Unfortunately, alcohol and depression often go hand-in-hand, because people are known to drink alcohol to ‘drawn’ their sorrows. 

Many people increase their alcohol consumption around Christmas, perhaps to drawn out mental health issues such as loneliness and social isolation. However, alcohol really is a ‘false friend’, because drinking more alcohol only severs to exasperate these issues.[2]

Unrealistic Expectations & Comparison

Whether it’s through Christmas ads on the TV, magazines, or social media, lots of people are exposed to images of the ‘perfect Christmas.’

This causes people to put a huge amount of stress and pressure on themselves to provide the best Christmas possible.

To do so, people spend more, plan maliciously and overthink the little things, all because they’re comparing themselves to others.

Ways people can protect their mental health during Christmas

Budget

To ensure you don’t struggle from money worries, budget throughout the year. Additionally, understand that you don’t have to go overboard with presents.

If you’re struggling with money worries, read this this guide by Stepchange [3].

Set Boundaries

It’s easy to get carried away at Christmas. So, try to set boundaries with the amount of presents you buy, money you spend, plans you make and drinks you consume.

Volunteer in the Local Community

If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety or are just feeling down during Christmas, there is no better time to help your local community.

More people need help during this time than any other, so helping at a soup kitchen, food bank or charity will be greatly appreciated.

It’ll also lift your spirits and help you socialise – it’s a win win!

Media Detox

To bring your expectations back down to reality, stop comparing your Christmas to the ones you see on social media, magazines, or the TV.

Instead, spend more time with family, friends, going on walks or reading a book.

Ask for Help

Most importantly, ask for help when you need it. Whether it’s to friends, family, or a doctor.

There are some fantastic helplines, organisations and charities listed below, as well as a helpful infographic for you to save and share this Christmas.

References

[1] https://yougov.co.uk/topics/health/articles-reports/2019/12/18/christmas-harms-mental-health-quarter-brits

[2] Explained in more detail in alcohol rehabilitation in Liverpool.

[2] https://www.stepchange.org/clients/dmp-during-festive-season.aspx

Written by Boris Mackey – Rehab 4 Addiction

READ MORE: Homelessness charity Crisis launches Christmas activity

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