Five tips for avoiding stress this Christmas

Although many people love the holiday season, Christmas can also be a stressful time. The combination of money worries, family gatherings, social pressures and unrealistic expectations can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. What’s more, many people aren’t surrounded by friends, family and loved ones to share the holiday season with, and those who are isolated often feel even lonelier at this time of the year.

Even though Christmas can be difficult to navigate, there are some steps that you can take to make things easier on yourself:

1. Set your own boundaries and stick to them
The office Christmas party isn’t for everyone, so don’t feel pressured into doing things that make you uncomfortable just because it’s Christmas. Don’t be afraid to say no, or if you do choose to socialise, then give yourself permission to leave when you want to.

2. Prioritise your own health and wellbeing
Sometimes this is easier said than done, but making sure that you get enough sleep and trying to get regular exercise is an important part of protecting your own mental health. If the gym is closed then go out for a brisk walk, or swap in-person classes for online fitness. Being active is a great antidote to stress and anxiety.

3. Schedule self care
At this time of year, self care is more important than ever, so make some time in your daily routine for whatever self care practises work for you. If you’re staying away from home this can be difficult, but setting aside as little as ten minutes to practise mindfulness - or whatever works for you - can make all the difference. Sometimes just taking a shower or bath is enough to recharge the batteries.

4. Be kind to yourself
Many people fall into the trap of thinking that everything has to be perfect at Christmas, but that’s not the case. Give yourself a break and try not to be overly self-critical. This might mean avoiding social media if you find it triggering (and honestly, nobody is having as much fun as they’re pretending to).

5. Reach out
Christmas is a great time to reach out to other people, particularly those that might be spending the festive season alone. If you’re having a difficult time and don’t know where to turn, then you can contact mental health charity MIND or the Samaritans.