MANCHESTER, England, Dec. 6, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Christmas is a time of heightened emotions. Schedules are busier, families reunite, and financial pressures take hold. There's a faster pace of life. And with these extra demands comes increased stress levels.
So how does this impact our mental health?
Kayleigh Frost, Head of Clinical Support at Health Assured, warns "When stress levels are raised, it can cause anxiety, physical exhaustion and eventually burnout. But there are ways to look after your mental health and reduce stress in the build-up to Christmas.
"This is the time of year when we often neglect our own wellbeing in the rush to ensure that others are happy, and Christmas is as magical as possible. Being aware of the extra pressure Christmas can bring allows you to notice when negative feelings are creeping up.
"If you're stressing that you're running out of time to get everything you want, or worried about how you're going to afford Christmas this year, then stop. Step back. Take some time to nurture your own wellbeing first before you start to feel out of control.
"Christmas should be the most wonderful time of the year for everyone – including you. Here are my top five tips for looking after your mental health this Christmas."
1. Don't overpack your schedule
Of course you want to go to all the parties, catch up with all your family and friends and enjoy the festive season as much as possible. But don't be afraid to say no. Overloading your schedule can lead to sleeping problems, abnormal eating habits and out-of-character behaviour. You don't have to accept every invitation. Make sure to include time for you in your schedule rather than rushing around from one event to another. When we have time to rest and recover, we can regain momentum, make sense of feelings, recharge our batteries, and enjoy ourselves again.
2. Cut back on spending where possible
Christmas is one of the costliest times of year, and these additional expenses can leave you feeling out of your depth. Finding time to sit down and work out your Christmas budget can be hard. But figuring out a budget and sticking to it is one of the best ways to prevent money worries from stealing the joy this Christmas. Look at what you need versus what you want. It's very easy to splurge and think you'll deal with the bills in the new year, but that's just delaying the inevitable stress and worry. You don't HAVE to have the latest toy or expensive electrical item. Smaller handmade gifts often mean much more and save you worrying about how to afford them.
3. Take care of your physical health
Making physical health a priority is one of the best ways to improve mental health and reduce stress levels. Of course, Christmas is a time to treat yourself, but it's very easy to overindulge and neglect your health over the holiday season. The best rule is everything in moderation. Enjoy yourself but make sure you don't overdo it. Schedule in time for a daily walk, drink plenty of water, include vegetables and healthy options with meals and consider your alcohol consumption.
4. Understand your triggers
For some people, Christmas can bring dark emotions or difficult situations into the light. These can be even more painful during the festive season, and feelings of loneliness and isolation can be heightened when everyone else appears to be enjoying themselves. If you know you have certain triggers or areas in your life causing concern, it's helpful to acknowledge these feelings in advance. Plan the steps you'll take if you find yourself losing control – this could be as simple as taking some deep breaths and practicing mindfulness, or you may prefer to remove yourself from the situation, go for a walk or have a chat with someone who understands.
5. Prioritise sleep
Poor sleep can have a drastic impact on both our physical and mental health, impacting our ability to manage emotions, think clearly, and manage impulses. When you're stressed or sleep deprived, you don't function as well as you normally do, and when things are busy it's often sleep that suffers. We stay out later, run ourselves into the ground and it becomes a vicious cycle. Keep the peace and prioritise sleep this Christmas.
Notes to editor
Health Assured is the UK and Ireland's largest independent and award-winning employee assistance programme (EAP) provider. Every day, we offer specialist support to over 15 million lives.
Kayleigh is available for interview Our Spokespeople (peninsulagroupglobal.com)
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