- How does the festive season affect mental health?
- How can you protect your mental health this Christmas?
- Our charity partner Family Action is here to help
The Christmas period is a time of joy and celebration, a welcome break when you can spend quality time with the ones you love. But it can also place a lot of strain on our mental health. More than a quarter of the population report feeling down over Christmas, with two in five people saying December brings feelings of stress and anxiety.
Christmas can be particularly hard for people who have experienced traumatic life events and lost loved ones, as feelings of loss and absence are often exacerbated at this time.
So, to help you take care of your (and your family’s) mental health this Christmas, have a look at our recommendations for the holiday period.
Get outside, get active
It may be chilly out, but leaving the house for a bit of exercise is an amazing way to keep your mind healthy. Even just a five-minute stroll each day gets your body moving, blood flowing and gives you the chance to reflect. Why not make it a part of your daily routine with the family? A group walk, run, cycle, or game of footie can do wonders for your mental wellbeing, and will bring everyone together. Exercise is proven to reduce anxiety and depression, and even boosts your cognitive abilities. Plus, who doesn’t love walking under the Christmas lights and soaking up the festive atmosphere in town?
Embrace your feelings
If there’s one thing you should always keep in mind, it’s this: it’s ok not to be ok. Mental health struggles impact each and every one of us in a different way. If you are feeling down at Christmas, don’t feel you need to put on a brave face for those around you, or join in with the festive cheer just for the sake of it. Be honest about how you are feeling, and reach out to someone if you need to. That could be a friend, family member, or a professional councillor. It’s much better to embrace how you feel rather than ignore it or pretend you’re ok.
Don’t overdo it!
We get it. The Christmas and new year period wouldn’t be the same without the constant parties and eggnog drinking! But it’s important to try and find some balance. It can be tempting to go out every night, see as many people as you can and stay up all night drinking Christmas cocktails. Although we think everyone should let loose a little, remember to still get plenty of rest, and avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. It’s not just your physical health that benefits from this – studies have shown that a good night’s sleep and a reduction in alcohol consumption can greatly improve your mood and overall mental wellbeing.
Take the financial pressure off
Feelings of loneliness and stress can be bad enough at Christmas time without having to worry about the added financial strain. Why not commit to spending your money slightly differently this year? Donate some money to a charity in someone’s name rather than buying them the latest phone or the shiniest jewellery. Buy cheaper, local produce for your Christmas dinner. There are loads of ways you can save money and still have a wonderful festive period. After all, the money and the material items should never be at the heart of Christmas – it should be about spending time with the ones you love. There are loads of ways you can spend money and still have a wonderful festive period, and you may find that doing so greatly improves your mental health.
Reach out to your friends
While it’s important to be aware of your own mental health and what you can do to help it, remember to check in on those around you as well. Not everyone is willing to speak up about their own feelings or struggles, and offering a sympathetic ear can make all the difference to someone. In fact, you may even find that helping someone else out by discussing mental health together greatly benefits your own mental wellbeing too.
The latest studies show that one of the most powerful things you can do if you are feeling low is to think about what you are grateful for. Perhaps it’s your family. Your friends. Your pet. It can even be something seemingly insignificant, like your favourite TV show or song. Reflecting upon what makes you grateful in life can help you to reframe and reconsider how you think about the world, which can have a profound impact on your mood and wellbeing.
At LV=, we’re proud to partner with the amazing charity Family Action. Family Action works tirelessly to support families by providing practical, emotional and financial support to those experiencing isolation, poverty and disadvantage across the country. They also provide specialist mental health and wellbeing services for adults, and work directly with the individual’s family as well. Their helpline service ‘FamilyLine’ is particularly important, and provides one to one befriending support for those feeling isolated, something which is sadly all too common at this time of year.
As part of their wider Christmas work, Family Action also runs a fantastic toy appeal to bring joy to the thousands of children they support. Christmas is a time of joy for families, but can also be a time of stress and difficulty. Family Action’s wonderful work helps deliver toys to kids who may otherwise have gone without.
To get involved, you can donate to their toy appeal to help them purchase gifts for the children they work with.