Two girls sitting together at a park bench with their friends. They are both laughing and one is looking at her phone.

Looking after your mental health at Christmas

3 min read
08 December 2019

Topics mentioned: family, self-care

Author: Calli

About: Among all the fun and festivities, Christmas can be an overwhelming time. Read on to find out Calli's advice for looking after your mental health over the holidays.

Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean caring for your mental health has to be put on hold.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” is what I hear constantly at Christmas. Whether it’s on the radio, the telly or out in public, we are constantly told that Christmas is a time to be happy.

But what if you’re not happy?

The reality for many of us, including myself, is that when Christmas comes around, there’s constant pressure on those with mental health problems to be happy all the time. But of course, that’s easier said than done.

Here’s my advice on things you can do to ensure you still enjoy the festive period this year, but also look after your mental health.

Take time out for yourself

It’s so important to take time out every day, not just in the festive period. If you feel yourself getting a bit overwhelmed or upset, take five to ten minutes away from everyone on Christmas Day. Just have a bit of time to yourself.

Usually I will go into my bedroom to watch something on television, and this year I started running, so will absolutely take some time out on Christmas Day to go for a run. Christmas Day can be quite an overwhelming day, so allow yourself time to recharge.

If you feel yourself getting a bit overwhelmed or upset, take five to ten minutes away from everyone on Christmas Day.

Get back into your sleep routine

A good night’s sleep is so important when it comes to looking after your mental health. It’s said that teenagers need an average of nine-and-a-half hours' sleep each night. When it comes to the festive period, ensuring you get enough sleep can become difficult due to things like late nights at home and parties.

To make sure you get back into your normal sleeping routine easily, try going to bed at normal times as the festive period draws to a close. This’ll make getting up for school a lot easier and, in turn, will help your mental health a lot.

Exercise for your wellbeing

Physical activity releases a chemical called endorphins, which makes you feel good, so if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or low at Christmas, why not go out for a walk? You could go on your own or with someone else, or go for a bike ride or even a run.

You’re allowed to take breaks, and do things that perhaps don’t involve the whole family.

Try to relax

It’s easy for me to say “Christmas is fun - just relax”, but the reality is that relaxing can be tricky. Try doing things like yoga, breathing exercises or meditation to help you calm down if you’re feeling a bit stressed over the festive period.

Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean caring for your mental health has to be put on hold. You’re allowed to take breaks, and do things that perhaps don’t involve the whole family. Mental health and physical health are equally important.

If you fell over and grazed your knee on Christmas Day, you’d put a plaster on it. So if you’re mental health needs a plaster, you’re allowed to do something about it.

More information and advice

We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
    24/7
  • The Mix

    Free, short-term online counselling for young people aged 25 or under. Their website also provides lots of information and advice about mental health and wellbeing. 

    Email support is available via their online contact form.

    They have a free 1-2-1 webchat service available during opening hours.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, Monday - Friday
  • Shout

    Text SHOUT to 85258.

    Shout provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

    All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.

    Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

    Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

    Opening times:
    24/7

Thanks for sharing your story Calli

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