Christmas can be a stressful time of year for many people for many different reasons. Maybe finding the perfect Christmas turkey, last minute panic present buying or choosing which family to share Christmas with is something that causes you stress and anxiety. Or maybe just the idea of Christmas and this time of year is extremely painful and/or difficult for you for other reasons. The media portrays jolly images of happy families enjoying Christmas altogether and yet, for many people, this is not their experience of Christmas. Christmas may cause seasonal stress that peaks just before Christmas Day and dissipates sometime after New Year’s Day.
With the approach of ‘C Day’ sometimes comes various festive frivolities including works’ Christmas parties, school events, friendly catch-ups and family meetups. For many too it can be a lonely time when people can feel disconnected by what is going on around them. No matter what your situation is, it can be easy to forget to look after ourselves and each other.
During these chilly winter months, it’s important to look after yourself both physically and mentally. Many people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) during the winter months. These winter blues are caused by the shorter daylight hours in winter, resulting in a higher rate of melatonin production in the body (a sleep hormone that is naturally combatted by sunlight.) SAD can cause people to feel lethargic, irritable and low. We can all take numerous steps over the winter to try and fight off the effects of SAD –
• Enjoy the sun – try and combat symptoms by getting out as much as possible, particularly during sunny winter days. Sitting by a window can also help.
• Eat well – it’s tempting to comfort eat during winter on sugars and carbs, but these foods can often make us feel sluggish and lethargic – don’t forget to indulge in greens also.
• Exercise – Getting out and moving about can have great benefits in improving your mood alongside providing a short-term change of scenery.
Although the above can assist in wellbeing, consider visiting your GP if you think you might be suffering from SAD and are struggling to cope.
Alongside our mental health, it’s important to look after our bodies in winter. You may find yourself heading out on festive nights out, and it’s easy to overindulge on food and drink. It’s good to celebrate the year out with friends and colleagues, but be aware of what you are drinking and be mindful of accepting drinks from other people. It may be helpful to stick to bottled drinks, or indeed keep an eye on your drink if you’re celebrating with a cocktail or a pint to help ensure no one else has touched your drink. Remember to always head home in a group or grab a licensed taxi if you do find yourself alone at the end of the night.
Equally, keep yourself warm on nights out – we’ve all been guilty of claiming that our ‘beer jacket’ will keep us toasty on the walk to the next pub, but be careful as temperatures can easily fall below freezing around Christmas time. Don’t take any risks with your health – you may be lucky and end up with just a runny nose, but it could be much worse. Cloakrooms may seem costly and annoying but are most likely less than the cost of an antibiotics prescription.
It’s important to be self-aware over Christmas, be kind to your body and mind and don’t overdo it! Alongside looking after ourselves, try and remember others around you – Christmas can be quite a lonesome time for some, especially for isolated people. It’s good to keep an eye out for one another and make sure people are well, even if it just involves a quick hello, or a cup of tea and a mince pie.
From all of us at Safeline, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas.
You can contact us via telephone, text, e-mail, or by using our Live Chat system: https://safeline.org.uk//contact-us/
To speak to one of our helpline advisors, please call:
National Male Helpline: 0808 800 5005
Young People’s Helpline: 0808 800 5007
Safeline is closed over Christmas on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. We will be open as normal around these closures. During these three days, if you find yourself needing to speak to someone urgently you can contact Samaritans on 116123 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.