For many, Christmas is a time of revelry and joy. For those who have a mental health condition it can be a challenging time. Dealing with a mental health problem at any other time of year can be difficult in itself, at Christmas there can be perceived to be added pressure.
Loneliness can also set in at this time of year if you haven’t got a strong support network. And seeing others go to countless parties if you are left out can feel depressing. Some people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms at this time of year such as self-medicating with alcohol which is in abundance at Christmas.
However, there are ways to have a healthy merry Christmas and here at Bridge we want everyone to enjoy themselves as much as possible! Here are some tips to give you a stress-free Christmas:
Plan in advance: If the pressure of buying presents builds up it can create problems if you have a mental health condition, so be prepared! Plan your present buying in advance and beat the Christmas rush by picking up presents early. Budget your money so you’re not left buying things at the last minute.
Arrange outings with your friends: If you are feeling left out of the party whirl, why not make your own arrangements? Contact friends with good ideas about evenings out and enjoy spending quality time with your friends and loved ones.
Soft drinks over alcohol: If you do find yourself at a party, opt for a soft drink. You’ll be thankful later when there’s been no cause for embarrassment and you wake up the next day feeling fresh! Many people are teetotal these days so it won’t stand out at a party. If you are finding you have serious problems with alcohol, then contact Alcoholics Anonymous who run support meetings to help people through addiction. You can also reach out to Rehab 4 Alcoholism, who provides detox and counselling services for people suffering from alcoholism throughout the United Kingdom
Healthy Eating: Christmas is a time of indulgence, but if eating healthily helps your recovery try not to give in too much to temptation and maintain a healthy diet while still having a few treats.
Challenge negative thoughts: It’s easy to get into a slump at a difficult time of year but you need to challenge those negative assumptions. Try to get into the spirit of Christmas instead of resisting it. Try telling yourself Christmas comes but once a year so you might as well enjoy it while still maintaining self-care.
Focus on others: Christmas is a time for giving so try and think outside of yourself and about others. Many people find volunteering to help the needy helpful to think of the wider community who may be having a difficult time at this time of year can be uplifting. Crisis for Christmas offer volunteer opportunities locally and centrally in London and there’s a great spirit of giving at the shelters they run.
Physical Exercise: It’s easy to give up on our routines over the Christmas period, but if exercise helps you at other times of the year, make time for it. Local exercise classes should still be running other than the main bank holidays and if you can’t get to the gym or a class, take a brisk wintry walk round your local park, it will do you the world of good.
Relaxation Exercises: Meditation and mindfulness can be particularly useful when all around you seems exceptionally busy. We run classes at our Recovery College Greenwich or you can find classes locally through the Internet. There are many self-help manuals in bookshops teaching meditation and mindfulness that you can find too.
Take a Break: If it all gets too much then take a break. If you find yourself too busy then cut back on your commitments. Remember Christmas is fun but your wellbeing comes first.
It’s important to know you are not alone. Watch our video, Recovery: A Journey not a Destination to experience the road to recovery through the eyes of others.
Remember despite any challenges enjoy yourself. From everyone at Bridge we wish you a happy, healthy Christmas and a joyful New Year!