Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Real Talk: Looking After Your Mental Health This Christmas


I absolutely love this time of year. I love all the twinkly lights. The smell of mulled wine in pubs. The sight of suited and booted city workers, tipsy and wearing festive headgear at 6 in the evening. I am full of all the Christmassy spirit (and all the glitter) and I really pack in all the yule time fun at this time of year. But damn, can that take a toll! Sometimes, despite my love for the holly and the ivy, I find this time of year gives my mental health a real bashing. (And I can only imagine it would be even worse if I really hated all things jolly). This time last year I was still really battling with my mental health - in the build up to Christmas I really struggled with my anxiety, and afterwards I really spiralled into a serious depression. So this year I am trying to do things a little differently, and I thought I'd share my tips for having a mentally healthy Christmas...
1. Prioritise the bits you love, and make your wishes known
Christmas is for sharing, but it shouldn't be at the expense of your own wellbeing. Sometimes this time of year becomes way too much about other people. We can end up doing things we don't like year after year in the name of "tradition", and there can be a resistance to change because a lot of the charm of Christmas is in the nostalgia. But I think it's okay to throw out old customs that don't work for you, and incorporate some new ones. It should be about compromise, and I think it's important to make your voice heard and just suggest some alternatives.



My extended family are all very comfortable spending hours talking crap in a pub. And for a very long time I was too, but the medication I am currently on doesn't mix well with booze and when I'm sober sister it can get a little dull. We now also have some little ones in the family too, so we try to do something festive and fun every year. Last year it was the incredible light display at Kew Gardens, and this year we all went to a pantomime in Wimbledon (Jack in the Beanstalk - I highly recommend). The oldies love these festive outtings, and it means we're making new memories and traditions with the kids. 

2. Find ways to do things you still enjoy
There are a few people in my life who actively dislike this time of year. While I adore Christmas, I do know that there are certain times of year I find tough and soaking myself in all the festive spirit would probably not be helpful. If Christmas really isn't for you, try to find ways to do things you love that have nothing to do with Christmas. Find a like minded friend or family member and go and watch a totally not Christmassy movie, or have a facial. Ask someone who cares about you to take a bit of time out to do something non festive with you. It will help chase away those Christmas blues and remind you that it's just a month like any other.







Make Believe Jumper - Joanie Clothing
Silver Skirt - Elvi (previous season)

3. Block our time for yourself
There is a perculiar, and I think quite endearing festive season quirk - there is a mad dash to see people before the year ends. It's as though we believe that clock will strike midnight, and that will be it. We will all be no more, and never see one another again. While it is lovely that it's the time for getting together as family and friends - it's not necessary. I often find that by Christmas day I have had plans every single day for like 3 weeks on the trot. I am an outgoing introvert. This means that despite being social and enjoying people, I really recharge being by myself.

So this year I was really disciplined and back in October when I started getting the first Christmassy plans in my diary I went through and blocked out certain days for me. I have been really precious about keeping them clear of any plans, and so there are evenings I have had to myself, to take long baths, wrap presents, watch Ru Paul's Drag Race, and not talk to anyone. It means I am energised and excited for plans, rather than feeling anxious and exhausted all the time.

4. Fuck the FOMO
Linked to number 3, is number 4. Saying fuck off to FOMO. FOMO is 'fear of missing out' and it was something that hounded me through my twenties but seemed to miraculously dissapear in my thirties, and only now rears it's ugly head at this time of year. Try and remember - it's okay not to do everything. It won't be the best night ever. There have been a hundred other nights like it before. And it's okay to prioritise.

 5. The post festive season slump
My biggest fear is the decline I experience almost annually between Christmas and New Year. It's a combination of come down after all the excitement of Christmas, and moving into a period of reflection. I am single and my housemates are often away at this time of the year, and so suddenly I go from having plans everyday and being surrounded by people to being alone all the time which tends to make me focus on the fact that movies like Love Actually have taught me that this time of year is for the lovers. New Year, much like birthdays, are naturally used as yardsticks to measure success and progress. When I am feeling blue, it is natural for me to focus on all my perceived failures for the year, instead of actually realising all I've achieved and all the good times the year has brought.

So this year I have been proactive. In January I started a jar of 'Good Stuff'. It sits next to me bed, and every time anything good happens - from a work of blog success, to a great day out, to a nice compliment, I have added it to the jar. The jar is now full to bursting of all the good juju of 2017. Hell sometimes when I am having a bad day just looking at it makes me feel better. My plan is to open it between Christmas and New Year, and really enjoy reading all the good things that happened to me this year. I am also planning on going away with my mum to somewhere in Europe too. This is not always an option for everyone (and not for me either) but I think changing what you would usually do (in my case sit at home and be sad) and building in something exciting means I will hopefully skip my usual end of year blues...

So those are some tips for looking after yourselves darlings. Do you have any others? Please post below...

Jumpers were both gifted by Joanie Clothing, both in a size XL, which fits my size 24 body perfectly! 
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3 comments

  1. Hi, Hayley! I just found your blog and it's fab. I'm totally going to come back here again. As for mental health, I hear you! It's so hard to stay cheerful especially when you are battling with things such as depression and anxiety. You diffidently have to make time for some self-care or you will totally break down. Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

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  2. Such fab advice, particularly at this time of year. It's so hard for so many people and it's important to remember to ourselves first. x

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  3. This is an excellent post. It can be so difficult to look after your mh at Xmas. Great tips. I love it when people talk openly about their mental health issues.

    www.somethinginthewayshemoves.me

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