Coping with Depression over Christmas
Christmas can be a stressful time of year, even for those without a mental illness such as Depression. It is therefore important to ensure you maintain a healthy balance over the festive period and be careful not to overindulge in rich foods and alcohol.
Christmas is filled with parties, social gatherings and celebrations with family, friends and colleagues. But for many people living with depression, Christmas can be a very difficult time for many reasons such as loneliness, financial pressures or family stress.
AWARE is the Depression Charity for Northern Ireland, they have released 10 top tips to keep yourself well this Christmas. Karen Collins is the Chief Executive of AWARE and said,
“Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for many people and the idea of the ‘perfect’ Christmas can be far from true and can make a person feel worse.
“The unrealistic expectation of what Christmas should be like and what it is actually like can become too much for an individual and could result in a relapse of depression or trigger the onset of depression.
“At AWARE, we have released our ‘Top 10 tips to keep yourself well this Christmas.’ These are small steps a person can take to protect themselves from additional pressure or stress as we approach Christmas.
Top ten tips to keep yourself well this Christmas
1. Keep expectations realistic. Set yourself personal boundaries regarding the amount of money spent on gifts and the number of social events you attend. The ‘perfect’ idea of Christmas is one that makes you happy, not the one seen on TV or the front of a Christmas card.
2. Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol is a depressant and will make depression symptoms worse. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause low mood, irritability and could potentially cause aggressive behaviour. By not exceeding the recommended daily units of alcohol, you will be able to maintain better mental and physical well-being.
3. Exercise. Wrap up and take yourself out for a walk. Lean to be mindful and take notice of the things around you such as the way the trees are blowing in the wind; how your feet feel with every step you take and the sounds of nature as you walk. If walking isn’t your thing, put some festive music on and dance around the house. Dancing is great way to boost your mood.
4. Eat sensibly. It can be tempting to indulge in foods you wouldn’t usually eat but this can often make you feel worse. So, whilst you can have a treat, don’t forget to eat the recommended portions of fresh fruit and vegetables which are all stimulants for good mood.
5. Rest. The pressures and stress that come with Christmas can be exhausting. Take care of yourself by ensuring you get plenty of rest.
6. Treat yourself. You may have bought other people’s gifts, but have you treated yourself? Do something that makes you feel good and enjoy it, even if its something as simple as taking yourself out for a coffee with a book.
7. Be honest. If you don’t feel up for going on that night out, just say. You need to look after you and forcing yourself to be involved in social situations may make you feel worse in the long term.
8. Take time for yourself. Make sure you take time to unwind and relax. Looking after yourself is important.
9. Don’t isolate yourself. It is important that you don’t completely isolate yourself as this could intensify feelings of loneliness. Get out for a walk, visit a neighbour or volunteer for a local charity.
10. Seek help. If you are finding Christmas difficult and you’re feeling overwhelmed, please seek help immediately. If you can, confide in someone close to you or call a 24/7 helpline such as Samaritans (116 123) or LifeLine (0808 808 8000) for advice.
To find out more information about depression and how AWARE can help you, please click here https://www.aware-ni.org/how-we-can-help-you