The festive period is fast approaching. For some, it is filled with family, friends, gifts, good food and good times. For others, this period can be a real challenge for many different reasons. From losing someone significant, relationship breakdown and estrangement from loved ones, to loss of employment, financial worries and generally feeling isolated and unwell.
With GPs, supportive charities such as MFT and Mental Health services reducing their activities or closing for the Christmas break, we can all feel the pressure to “feel happy” and that we all participate in festive activities, which we know can be really difficult to do if we’re struggling.
To help you through the coming weeks, we’ve asked our Safe Haven team to share their tips to survive the festive period. This is what they wrote:
Talking to someone you trust prior to the festive season can be really helpful. Maybe you could ask them to help and think about situations that could trigger negative thinking and they can help to try to identify any helpful coping mechanisms we might use?
If you’re taking any prescribed medication, make sure you have enough to last over the festive period and a bit beyond. Make sure you have enough food and supplies in, to avoid an unexpected dash to find a shop that’s open.
Have a budget of what you’re likely to spend and stick to it. If your budget is tight, think of offering your time to help someone with their garden, with shopping, dog walking or a trip out for an inexpensive coffee or lunch in 2024. Crafting can also be a good way of making personalised and inexpensive gifts. One of the things we think we have all learned during the pandemic is that spending time with people who get us and love us is the most important thing and our time is the most precious gift we have.
The last few years have been difficult for us all. Maybe one of the things we’ve learned from working our way through the pandemic is that sometimes we rush around trying to please others, but it doesn’t always serve us that well. We all need to be kinder to ourselves, as we’ve been through a lot.
Make space for solitude and do what makes you feel good. Hopefully, this will stop you from burning the candle at both ends and trying to meet the heightened expectations of the festive period. Think about food, alcohol and caffeine and how this can affect your mood and try to avoid situations where you are likely to feel pressured into eating or drinking too much.
Choose who you celebrate with. There’s nothing wrong with spending time alone if it works for you or if it’s easier. Your festive period doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. If you want to eat beans on toast for lunch and listen to music or watch TV, that’s ok.
Social media can be a wonderful thing and allows us to keep us in contact with each other but we think is good to always be mindful that people very often post the best version of their festive seasons and life generally online. We should all be mindful that just because we’re not celebrating in the same way, our way of getting through it is ok.
Try to get outdoors for walks and exercise if you can. Just a short walk, especially in natural surroundings, can help to improve your mood, either alone or with a friend.
Our daily routines are important to us and it’s really easy during the Christmas period to get out of sync with our normal sleep patterns. This can really affect our mood. Think about removing devices before you try to sleep and you will sleep a lot better if your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark. Try listening to music, reading or practising mindfulness to get into the right frame of mind for sleep.
Just having a shower, cleaning our teeth and changing our clothes can improve our mood. Feeling good about ourselves is an important part of self-care.
Manage your energy
Give only as much as you feel you can. It can be really hard to set boundaries but sometimes we just have to say no. It can be very difficult to put yourself first but those who really care will understand.
If you are going to a family lunch or dinner, find a quiet spot to retreat to if you get overwhelmed. Know where support is available if you are struggling.
Please remember that if you need support, the Epsom Safe remains open over all of the festive period, and we are open between 6-11pm. We have a virtual link if you are unable to travel to see us in person.
We have also listed all the holiday mental health emergency contact on our website for ease. Do keep the page open on your smartphone so it is easy to find in times of distress.