7 Ways to be Mentally Healthier This Christmas

How do you feel during the holidays? Do find yourself feeling stressed, worried about money, nervous about being a good host and just not in the Christmas spirit?

Some people love the holidays and are energised by the different stages of preparing, but for others Christmas can be a stressful, exhausting, lonely time of the year.

If Christmas is a challenging time for you, you’re not alone. You could feel stressed about getting everything ready, anxious about visiting people you don’t get along with, feeling the need to impress others, face financial pressure, feel run down from eating and drinking too much, and much more.

Many people have (or are given) unrealistic expectations of what Christmas should be like and what they have to do to make this happen. This causes pressure to do and spend more than you’re capable or else you’ll let others down, which takes a toll on your mental health. Therefore, it’s important that you’re realistic about what you can accomplish, what others expect of you and what you actually want to do, instead of comparing yourself to others and what you see online.

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to make sure others enjoy Christmas and sacrificing your mental health. There’s lots to do and pressure to do it well, so it’s natural for you to feel stressed, worried, anxious, and just wishing for January so life can go back to normal. But if you decide that you don’t like the holidays and never will, you’re missing out on what can be a fun celebration.

Everyone has their own beliefs about how they expect themselves to feel about Christmas. Some want it to be the best time of year while others tell themselves that they’re going to be exhausted and stressed until the holiday is. But by having a realistic approach to Christmas and not expecting too much or telling yourself to accomplish more than you’re capable of, you can better your chances of having a good holiday.

Instead of burning yourself out or preventing yourself from having a good time, you could try the following practices to have a more balanced and forgiving approach to Christmas.

1) Set realistic expectations

How do you think Christmas should make you feel? How do you think others feel during the holidays? What do you imagine yourself preparing for Christmas? Do you want to give everyone perfect gifts, have a spotless house and make delicious meals from scratch?

Are these beliefs realistic?

It’s easy to have unrealistic ideas of what your Christmas should be like, especially if you spend any time on social media. You can believe that everyone is having a perfect Christmas without any stress, exhaustion, frustration or worrying about going over-budget.

Some people have skills that make preparing a social media-friendly Christmas relatively easy and enjoyable for them, but you might not have the time, resources, and notions of fun that they do. Comparing yourself to others can make you feel ashamed, so instead of asking yourself how well you’re doing compared to others, ask yourself if you’re doing your best and taking care of yourself.

Another aspect of unrealistic expectations about Christmas is that everyone is always having a wonderful time. This might be true for some people, but not many. There are extra things to enjoy during the holidays, but you still have your usual concerns, problems and responsibilities to keep you from getting lost in the holiday for days on end. Just because you’re only having an alright time doesn’t mean you’re not celebrating Christmas properly. Remember that with all the additional pressure to enjoy yourself, it’s easy to think you’re more depressed than everyone else when you’re just being normal.

2) Recognise if you’re struggling

No matter the time of year or how much you have to get done, you shouldn’t ignore your emotions and push yourself to keep going when you’re mentally exhausted. You can’t pressure yourself into having a good time so listen to your emotions take care of yourself.

If you ignore your emotions and tell yourself you’ll relax after Christmas is over, you won’t have a good time and you can make others around you miserable as well. Take a break so you don’t become short-tempered or overwhelmed; the people around you would likely want you to be relaxed and happy than overworked. Acknowledge that you have more to do than normal so getting exhausted and fed up at times will happen. Instead of ignoring these feelings, respect that you’re having them and do what you need to recover.

3) Respect how others want to celebrate while recognising you don’t have to share their spirit

Everyone has their own ways of celebrating and feeling about the holidays. Some people love listening to Christmas music from Halloween until New Years while others can only stand a few minutes before they’re sick of it. There are people who get very enthusiastic and throw themselves into an endless list of activities and traditions and never get tired because they’re so passionate about the holiday, while some people have very little enthusiasm for Christmas.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum of Christmas spirit, remember that everyone is entitled to their own attitudes towards the holidays. Christmas has various meanings and significance to different people. So don’t try to bring others up or down to your level.

4) Choose where you focus your energy

You can’t do everything and do it all well, so choose what you want to invest your time and energy in. What will make your Christmas more enjoyable and what is unnecessary? Making lavish meals from scratch might seem like a good idea, but if this isn’t an area of strength for you, then trying this might make you stressed and lead to a tense atmosphere. Ask yourself what people want and what you’re capable of doing, not what you think you should do to impress others.

Not everything can or needs to be perfect. Some parts of the holidays will go well, and others won’t. Embrace ‘good enough’ and accept that not everything will go according to plan. You might be disappointed by others and have things fall short of your expectations, but mistakes are unavoidable. People will forgive you or not even realise that you had bigger plans that didn’t work out.

5) Don’t feel guilty for not spending or doing enough

Many people spend more than they’re comfortable with for Christmas. This can place enormous mental and financial pressure on those who can’t afford what they think they need to spend.

If your financial situation doesn’t give you the freedom to spend a great deal on gifts, be realistic with yourself and others about what you can offer. The people in your life should understand that money is limited for you and be happy with gifts that are more heart-felt than costly. A thoughtful gift can be worth more than something expensive. You could give someone a promise to help them with yard work or free babysitting.

Commercialism has become a huge part of the holidays, but remember that the people in your life shouldn’t expect you to overspend to make them happy.

6) Make time to take care of yourself.

With all the focus on others at this time of the year, don’t forget to make time for self care (*). When you’re stressed and busy, taking care of yourself is even more important so you can maintain your mental health. Make sure you take the time to do what makes you feel fulfilled, energised and calm so you don’t become stressed and burnt out.

The time you invest in self-care will be more valuable than trying to get more done since it will make you happier, more fun to be around, and more productive.

7) Know that you’re not alone

Struggling with mental health during the Christmas season is common. Four out of five people feel more stressed and/or lonely during the holidays, a quarter of people report their mental health getting worse, over a third of Australians acquire credit debt, and over half of people worry about the mental health of someone they’re close to.

This means that when you’re feeling down this time of year, there are millions of people feeling the same way you do, including some of the people you’re close to. There could even be someone you know worrying about you, so you shouldn’t feel ashamed of your feelings, selfish for not enjoying yourself, or afraid or telling someone you’re having a hard time because your feelings are natural and understandable.

A gingerbread man takes a bath in a tub of mini marshmallows
Christmas can be a more enjoyable when you make time for yourself

With all the pressure to make Christmas the most special time of the year, it’s easy to worry about all that you need to buy, prepare and do to make people happy, while believing you should be having a wonderful time since it’s Christmas. But Christmas is full of unrealistic expectations of how you should feel and what you should do to make the holiday enjoyable for yourself and others.

If you can keep your ideas and beliefs about Christmas realistic while taking care of your mental health by aiming for good enough instead of perfect and realising when you need to relax, then you can not only maintain your mental health, but have a wonderful time as well. And if you don’t – that’s okay. Not everyone enjoys Christmas so don’t make yourself depressed telling yourself you have to be enjoying yourself. Everyone has the right to their own feelings, no matter the season.

(Visited 5 times, 1 visits today)

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *