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  • Jo FitzGerald

10 Top Tips To Avoid Overwhelm At Christmas

Updated: May 2, 2020

You don’t need a diagnosed mental health disorder to experience poor mental health over Christmas.



It can be a wonderful time of getting together with loved ones, a time of joy, of giving, of relaxing, playing games and indulging. But it can also be a time where we have to spend time with people that might irritate us, where we have a to-do list a mile long, where tempers may fray, where we feel taken for granted, where we worry about finance, where we feel the poignancy of the loss of loved ones…


"Recent research shows that the crisis point for things going screwy is 2:13 pm on Boxing Day!"


I’m going to give you a few tips to avoid that overwhelm, and to support your own mental health – and that of those around you in this wonderful, emotional, enjoyable, stressful roller-coaster ride of a holiday season! 10 Top Tips 1.Take Time Out Give yourself time to relax before, during and after the Christmas period – it doesn’t have to be a manic rush to get things bought, decorated, cooked, eaten, taken down and tidied away. Don’t be afraid to take time out to go for a walk, read a book or have a nap if you need it. If you’re hosting other people around Christmas, try to plan some ‘down time’ in advance. 2.Plan Together One of the best ways to avoid stress and overwhelm, is by planning as much as possible in the run up to Christmas and also, by being careful not to take on too much yourself. Remember that you’re not being selfish by saying “no” to some things or asking for some help. For example, if you’re hosting Christmas dinner, could you ask some of your guests to bring a starter or dessert? Could you make a Family Christmas Rota together, where people are given jobs to do? That way, everyone has a say in what they do, and knows their responsibilities – it can save a lot of upset and means everyone can enjoy themselves. 3.Make Time For You At Christmas it can be all too easy to get swept up into other peoples’ ideas of fun and to fill every moment with some kind of activity. It’s important to make sure that you do things to maintain your own well-being, and support yourself if feeling stressed. If you know what relaxes and restores you, then go ahead and do it, have a bath, meditate, do yoga, watch some trashy TV… whatever helps you de-stress and helps you top up your energy levels. 4.Avoid The 'Energy Sappers In her book 'Lessons I've Learned' Davina McCall talks about two kinds of people; radiators who give out warmth, positivity and energy, and the 'drains' who sap that energy with their negativity. We probably recognise them as 'givers' and 'takers'. At Christmas it can be difficult to avoid those people that we find difficult to be around because they might be relatives or family 'friends'. But do be aware that some people trigger negative thoughts and feelings in us. Take some time out when you need to, and try to limit your time with them, especially in 1-to-1 situations. 5.Don’t Compare Social media can be great for sharing messages and keeping in touch over the Christmas period, but it can also be an overshare of ’perceived perfection’!!! Try to avoid comparing your experience to those of your friends. Remember that most people only share the best bits of their lives online and you don’t know what’s going on behind the smiling selfies and prezzie pics! Christmas is not a competition, the most important thing is to be spending lovely moments with loved ones – don’t lose sight of that. 6.Get Out In Nature Research shows that being out in nature is really restorative, and great for our well-being. Going for a wintery walk can be the perfect way to get some fresh air and exercise along with a change of pace. Being in the same house for too long can get a bit intense, especially if it’s crowded, so a change of scenery will do everyone good. Even if it’s just a walk around your neighbourhood – you can notice the trees, the breeze on your skin, the birds, the gardens… 7.Eat Well Nutrition has a real effect on your overall well-being, if we eat rubbish – we’ll feel rubbish. Whilst it’s fine to have a bit of culinary indulgence over Christmas, do try to keep your diet as balanced as possible with lots of fruit and vegetables. This will help you to avoid energy lows that can have an effect on your mood and bring you down. 8.Avoid Over-indulgence Alcohol is a mood enhancer - we all know that a bit of alcohol can make you feel relaxed, but don’t forget that drinking too much can leave you feeling irritable and low. It can also play a big part in arguments and disagreements, so it’s a great idea to drink in moderation. Caffeine can also heighten anxiety. 9.Get To Bed! Getting the right amount of sleep has a huge effect on energy levels and mood. If you know you’ve got to be up early, have an early night. Try to have a nap if you’re feeling tired and stressed – it might mean asking someone else to do a chore for you, or look after the children for an hour. You can always reciprocate when they need a bit of time out themselves. 10.It’s Good To Talk If you’re worried about how you’re going to cope around Christmas or feel stressed, overwhelmed or under pressure, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. Have a chat to someone you trust. We’re going to be looking at some of the signs and symptoms of stress – and showing you an exercise that can really help you do something about what you’re feeling. Happy Christmas! #christmasstress #anxiety #mhfa #selfsupport #aidingmentalhealth

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