For many of us, Christmas is a time of year that can be quite painful. While others are decking the halls and feeling the joy. Some of us are reminded of grief and loss. Or feel overwhelmed by the added pressures, either financial or emotional.
Cathy Mandile is a counsellor and family therapist.
I have asked Cathy to write an article for us on mental health as we lead into Christmas. It is a time when we need to be especially aware of our mental health. Take time to process and apply self-care. Be aware that this time of the year can be difficult and that is okay. Allow your self the space that you need. Look after others around you and be aware that not everyone finds Christmas a jolly time of year.
Wrapping up our Mental Health for Christmas
by Cathy Mandile
Maintaining good mental health can overtake every part of your life. If your mental health is suffering, you are going to find it difficult to get through the day feeling positive and hopeful. The holiday season can be detrimental to good mental health since it’s common to feel stressed and frustrated. Between trying to do all of your shopping, cooking and decorating and dealing with the financial burden of trying to get presents for family and friends, you need to take care of your health during the holidays.
Good mental health is vital to the overall functioning of your body and mind. When you’re feeling frazzled and stressed constantly, it’s easy to get what’s known as burn-out. People who deal with burn-out can deal with a range of different mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, OCD flare up, derealization due to increased anxiety and panic attacks. To avoid any and all of these things from happening, you need to set aside enough time for yourself during the holiday season so that you are able to actually enjoy the season rather than feel burdened by it.
Some of us have an irrational fear that if we take care of ourselves no one else will and thus fear loss of connection with others. This is a friendly reminder that we can take care of ourselves and be vulnerable to others, feel taken care of and be available for it.
This is a particularly important reminder during the holidays. It can feel as though everyone else is enjoying the holiday cheer. We can feel alone and isolated, and self-care becomes more essential than ever. Here are some tips and tricks to rely on all through the year, with some extra pointers to get you through the month of December.
All of the family and festivities can bring up a lot of emotion and it’s good to give yourself some extra love this time of year. If you can afford a spa day, I say go for it! And if that isn’t in the budget, there are many ways that you can pamper yourself at home. Give yourself a mani/pedi, cut up some fresh cucumbers and place them on your tired eyes, slather your hair with mayonnaise and wrap it in cellophane, make yourself a homemade sugar scrub, light some candles and take a hot bubble bath, just do something that makes you feel good, and do it often.
Be of Service:
This may seem like an odd choice for self-care tips, but the truth is when you aren’t focused on your own misery, you are taking care of yourself. Tis’ the season for giving, and being of service is always a morale booster. For those of you who feel anxious at holiday parties, I suggest pinning yourself to the host and asking how you can be helpful. Look around to see what needs to be done or see who else looks a little anxious and introduce yourself. Orienting yourself towards others gets you out of your own head, gives you something to do, and before you know it you might actually be having a good time!
Baking cookies for your loved ones or making simple ornaments for your friends gives you something fun to do, and something lovely to give. When was the last time you got lost in some cookie dough and frosting, or spent a couple of hours in the craft store?
The Usual Suspects:
Don’t forget about all of the self-care you do on a regular basis during the busy holiday season. In fact, you might make a point of doubling your efforts in this regard. Keep up with your exercise, meditation, journaling, support meetings, spending time with pets, try to get up and go to bed around the same time as you usually do, making your bed and doing the dishes… all of the maintenance that makes us feel good about ourselves. It’s important to use your holiday to relax and unwind, but keeping active will make the return to work a lot less painful.
If you are alone this Christmas and need somewhere to connect. Now and Not Yet Cafe in Warrandyte is hosting a Free Christmas dinner on the 23rd of December. Don’t do Christmas on your own. You are very welcome to attend.
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