Mental Health at Christmas

Tips to help you cope with stress, anxiety, and depression

Christmas is in the air, yet It doesn’t feel like it. Has this thought ever occurred to you even just once? If yes, you are not alone.

I was scrolling on Facebook and saw one of my friend’s posts claiming that perhaps Christmas is only for the children. The older we get, the more woes we have, the more complex our thoughts become, and the more people we lose – literally and figuratively. These can cause us worry and sadness. Hence, us feeling down during the holidays.

In addition, this season can also put pressure on us to project that “perfect Christmas celebration” – well-decorated tree, full feast, and lots of presents. But what if that isn’t possible? Not to mention, what if the holidays bring up sad and uncomforatble experiences that we’d rather forget? As a result, we become stressed out.

That’s why the Christmas season can be challenging for some. We need to be mindful of ourselves and others during this festive yet sensitive time.

3 Tips to Protect Your Mental Health During the Holidays

If Christmas is difficult for you or you know someone who might need some support, here are some tips to help you cope:

a. Be Kind to Yourself

  • Think and write down want you want and need. This will help youn achieve clarity during the holidays. It also saves you from saying yes to things you don’t wish to do, too.
  • Do what’s best for you even if others don’t seem to understand and might call you selfish. That’s not your fault, you need not explain.
  • Just do what you can. Don’t do things for the sake of pleasing others. Do what pleases you.

b. Plan Ahead

  • In Germany, many shops are closed during the holidays. What about in your area? Check-out the opening and closing times of the supermarkets and stores that you would like to visit to reduce stress.
  • If you need access to medical services, take note of the emergency numbers should you need them.
  • Make a list of easy relaxing activities that you can do anytime just in case you feel overwhelmed or anxious. Think of it as a Mental Health Activity Tool Kit. (Blog post about this coming soon! :D)

c. Set Some Boundaries

  • Explicitly tell your families and friends to schedule a visit. Gee, I love having visitors around but at least tell me in advance that you’re coming. I can be spontaneous but knowing what’s to come can take the load off your shoulder.
  • When having people over or visiting families and friends, tell them the time that you wish to leave. In that case, you are managing expectations.
Self-care isn't selfish written on a journal with a pink background

Supporting Others During the Holidays

As mentioned, these could be challenging times for the people around us. Therefore, we need to be more mindful of our words and deeds to help and avoid harm.

What to do:

  • Make your dear ones a cup of tea and tell them they are not alone.
  • Listen to them and acknowledge their feelings.
  • Offer your support should they need anything (if this is what you truly wish to do without pressure)
  • Connect them with the right people should they need additional support

What not to do:

  • Don’t force them to open up to you.
  • Don’t assume you know their thoughts and feelings
  • Don’t take it personally if they decline your offer to help
  • Don’t make assumptions about what they can afford

Underneath all the glitz and fluff, let’s remember the true meaning of Christmas. Perhaps that could reduce our and others’ expectations of us. Maybe that could aslo help us experience the Christmas spirit back when were kids.

As a person with anxiety and depression who lives overseas, the holiday season can be difficult. I understand how difficult it can be. These things are helping me. So, I write these for you, in the hopes that they can help you or someone too.

Merry Christmas from me to you.