The festive season is fast approaching. Pumpkins, spice and all things nice, fireworks, cosy nights, wrapping paper and glitter.
There are lots to look forward to over the coming weeks!
However, what some people consider to be the most wonderful time of the year can be the lowest time of all for others.
The upcoming festivities do not bring the same happiness to everyone and for some it can be the season of dread.
The golden quarter of the year doesn’t cover everyone in magical fairy dust.
For some the winter season can cover them in a blanket of darkness, seriously affecting their mental health and wellbeing.
The festive strain
We are under pressure from all around us to enjoy the celebrations of the last few months of the year.
Halloween, bonfire night, Christmas parties, gift buying and socialising, ticking all the boxes so that we are not labeled a Grinch!
But what if you’re not a Grinch at all?
What if you just don’t feel festive?
What if the festive season is a difficult time of year for you mentally and emotionally?
If this rings true to you then keep reading to take a look at my top tips to help you through the winter festivities.
Common triggers for low mood over the festive period
There may be many reasons why the Christmas season and the weeks leading up to it are difficult for you mentally.
Perhaps you have unpleasant memories of earlier Christmases. Maybe the festive season was tough for you in childhood?
This time of year can be difficult as we remember loved ones who have passed. Memories come rushing back to us of happier times.
There are stresses financially to consider. The pressures to buy and spend money can be stressful.
Maybe the colder, darker months have a negative impact on your mood. The darker mornings and earlier darker evenings can take a toll on our wellbeing. With less time spent in daylight.
And personally the one I struggle most with is people pleasing. Trying to keep up with everyone else’s demands on your time and energy.
The social pressures to be at every party or get together you are invited to. Being introduced to new people and interacting with groups of people you barely know. When really it’s not your thing, or your find social situations very challenging.
If any of the above strikes a chord with you then fear not! I’ve got your back! Here are my top tips for getting through the festive season with your mental health in tact!
Festive wellbeing tips!
A great way to release past negative emotions that we hold onto is to write them down. Adding journaling to your self-care routine is a great way to give you some me time and release negative thoughts.
Let it out
• Treat yourself to a journal or notebook. Buy one that you really like and will enjoy writing in. Pour out on paper all the negative associations you have with the festive season.
• Do you have unpleasant memories?
• Was Christmas a difficult time for you and your family?
• What does Christmas and this season mean to you?
• How do you want the festive season to be for you ideally?
Use this time to really let go of all the negative mental chatter that you feel towards this time of year.
Don’t let your past destroy your future. Just because the festive season has been difficult in the past does not mean that your future ones have to be too.
Make new family or friendship traditions that you can look forward to from this year onwards.
Or if you want to steer away from the festivities all together, why not make this a time of year that you love by turning it into a positive time of year for you.
Take an annual trip somewhere?
Make December a bucket list month for you. Vow to turn Decembers into an exciting month where you strive to achieve a goal you really want to achieve.
In other words create your own version of what this ‘happy’ time means to you.
Remembering Loved Ones
We all know how difficult it is to loose someone we love. For some reason Christmas and the build up to it is always tough as our loved ones play on our minds that little bit more.
It can be especially hard if the anniversary of their passing is over the festive period.
One thing I like to do each year is to write them a letter. Yes I know it’s never going to be read, but for me that’s not really the point.
I lost my best friend a few years ago, and we both shared a love for Christmas.
The first Christmas without her was heartbreaking. I felt numb.
As each year passes, Christmas is tough. However I know that she would want me to carry on the love we shared for the season and so I decided to celebrate the season for both of us.
Each year I write her a letter, sharing my memories of our happy times, the things that have happened the past year and my hopes and dreams for the future.
This helps me to feel connected to her at such a difficult and emotional time of year.
It really is the thought that counts!
Now this one really winds me up! It is such a bugbear of mine, the way we are made to feel that this time of year should cost us a fortune!
It doesn’t have to!
There I said it.
We all know what the true meaning of this time of year is. And by the way I’m not just talking about Christmas here, I’m talking about Halloween, bonfire night, all the parties and get togethers that fill our diaries.
It’s about spending time together. Making memories.
It is not about getting into debt and spending beyond your means.
• Budget. What can you afford? Do you really need to buy a gift for everyone?
• Get creative and make gifts to cut down costs.
• Buy bargains throughout the year when items are on sale.
• Give time tokens to people. Instead of spending money, spend time with them.
Ultimately the stress and anxiety that financially difficulty can cause is a serious matter.
If you can’t afford to buy something or do something then please try to talk it through. Anyone who loves and cares for you will not expect you to get into debt over the festive period.
Seek the light
The winter months can be tough on our mental health and wellbeing.
Shift work, early starts and late finishes all take their toll on our minds.
If getting up out of bed is a struggle for you at the best of times, then it really can be draining facing the day ahead when its dark and cold outside.
So what can you do?
• Try to get outdoors as much as possible. Even if you really don’t feel like it, I promise you will feel so much better for making the effort. Every bit of vitamin D helps to increase our mood and lift our spirits.
• Find the beauty in nature. The autumn and winter months can be truly beautiful. Try to take notice of your surroundings, the trees, the colors, and animals. Enjoy an autumn/ winter stroll through your local park.
• Get your Hygge on! Hygge is all about embracing the cosy comforts of life. Soft woolly hats and scarfs, fluffy jumpers, thick socks, hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows, stargazing under warm blankets, film nights and candlelight’s. Wrap yourself up in life simple pleasures and try to find the positive experiences to be had at this time of year.
Don’t give in to social pressures
The chances are you will be invited to parties, family gatherings, meals out etc. This can be a tough one, especially if you dislike social gatherings.
Such invites are also tough if you have anxiety or depression as often the last thing you want to do is sit in a strange place making small talk with random people!
However there are ways to dial down the stress.
• Prioritise, priorities, prioritise! You can’t go to everything, there is only one of you and you can’t split yourself in half!
• It’s ok to be selective about which invites you accept. If you really don’t want to attend an event then that’s ok. Choose to be in control of your social calendar.
• Don’t allow people to guilt trip you into attending functions with them, its ok to make your excuses.
• If you attend a get together and you feel it’s not for you and you want to leave then explain you have to be somewhere else. That way you have shown your face for an hour without putting too much pressure on yourself.
• Take regular breaks, go outside for 5 minutes and take deep breaths.
• Accept that you can’t please everyone. The chances are there will always be someone who you can’t please but ultimately you have to do what feels right to you.
So there you have it! I hope you find some of these tips useful as we enter the party season. I wish you all a healthy and happy festive season.