Although we had a great time at the December meeting we know from experience that this time of year can be difficult for many. Here are some helpful hints and tips from previous group discussions.
Challenges of the festive season
Fake Christmas (enforced jollity!) for the previous two months spoils the real message of Christmas.
Busy shops/long queues so no personal space or ‘me time.’
Buying presents > overspending
Writing and delivering Christmas cards and presents
Lack of time to do everything > over-activity
Avoid shops or go early in the morning, online shopping
Create a space for yourself
Keep it simple
Selective blindness/hearing to divert attention from Christmas scenes
Attending social events
Social anxiety > self-isolation > no one to talk to about mental health
Over-indulging (alcohol, food)
Try to avoid alcohol
Try to cut down on smoking
Loss of routines
Lose track of time...what day is it?? Disturbed sleep patterns may trigger hypomania, lack of sleep and alcohol > low mood.
Difficulties getting up in the morning (no motivation due to break from work/volunteering/services being shut)
Changes in the amount of light and bad weather > low mood, physical health problems due to viruses, bugs, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) > everything is more difficult to cope with.
Structure and routine can help
Plan some ‘me time’ that you really enjoy doing
Motivation: having to look after kids, pets etc
Be honest about needing to sleep
Try to get the work/life balance right
Continue to follow your medication regime
Set achievable goals but keep it simple
Spend time with pets
Have something planned for after Christmas
Have a little wellness toolbox with phone numbers of sources of support (formal and informal)
Try not to give yourself a hard time about not being able to keep up with everyone else
Switch PC off an hour before bed
Avoid coffee after 3pm
Watch a comedy on TV
Dealing with family/friends
Having to meet up with family you very rarely see > social anxiety / jealousy of others coping better than you / feeling patronised.
Everyone wants to meet up with you, which tires you out or you may feel guilty for saying no.
There are no family or friends around > feelings of isolation/lack of self-worth.
Family stressed out on the day > arguments > bad atmosphere.
Missing members of family/friends who are no longer with us.
Support from other family and friends
Have realistic expectations.
Lay down boundaries.
Take a step back to avoid clashing with family/friends
Set a time (quality, not quantity), e.g., need to get home to see to dog/cat.
Take a buddy along for support who knows that you may need to leave early/take time out.
Decide who you are going to argue with in advance and stick to it (only one relative per year)
Meet somewhere neutral: less stressful, time-limited, and less likely to argue in public.
Opt out: self-isolate (helpful for some people but not all)
Go away during the festive season.
Edinburgh Crisis Centre: Free phone 0808 801 0414, 24/7 telephone helpline offering emotional support 365 days of the year to people in Edinburgh aged 16 and over who use or have used mental health services and their carers. Text 07974429075 or email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Samaritans: 116 123
Text “SHOUT” to 85258 (24/7 crisis text service)
Mental Health Assessment Service (MHAS) Royal Edinburgh Hospital 0131 537 6000
NHS 24: call 111 (24/7). Website for information and self-care advice: www.nhs24.com