Widely celebrated as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, for some of us Christmas can certainly feel like the hardest time of the year. With the pressure to create ‘the perfect Christmas’, the temptations of alcohol, and with it being harder to access services usually available to you, it is no surprise that those struggling with mental health and addiction may experience feelings of loneliness and isolation over the festive period. If you or someone you know may be struggling this year, keep reading for some friendly tips and advice for general wellbeing and how to navigate mental health this Christmas.
Mental health at Christmas
It can be easy to get swept up in the ‘picture perfect’ Christmas, however this is something many of us struggle to achieve. Mental health can be affected at Christmas due to broken relationships, social anxiety, depression, loneliness, or even the loss of your usual routine.
- Take a break. The festive season can be overwhelming, so take time for yourself and think about what Christmas really means to you and focus on that. Whether that be friends or family, religion, or even indulging in your favourite foods.
- If you’re feeling lonely, find things that you enjoy doing that can pass the time. Take yourself on a nature walk, get creative with art, or find local activities to get involved in.
- Remember, you’re not alone. Anxiety around Christmas is extremely common, with nearly 60% of people experiencing panic attacks over this period. Reach out and talk to family, friends, or even engage with supportive online communities or mental health phonelines.
Mind Mental Health Charity have created an online community ‘Side by Side’ for those struggling with mental health, this is a safe space to feel at home talking about your mental health and connect with others who understand what you are going through. The community is available to all, 24/7. If you aren’t sure where to turn this Christmas, Side by Side could be a great way for you to chat to others in your situation.
Addiction at Christmas
It’s undeniable that alcohol is everywhere around Christmas time. With social gatherings, work-parties and New Years events crammed into one month, resisting temptation can be extremely difficult, especially for those in recovery. A poll by alcohol charity Drinkaware reported that 61% of drinkers in the UK over-indulge over the festive season than they usually do, with 13% of drinkers admitting to avoiding social occasions altogether.
- If you are anxious about overindulging this year, try and surround yourself with friends or family who are supportive of your recovery. Be selective about the events that you attend and consider skipping those with a focus on drinking alcohol.
- If skipping events isn’t an option. bring your own drinks to Christmas parties, this way you can be in control of your own drinking consumption by bringing a low-alcohol or no-alcohol beverage.
- If you have a driving license, it could be a great idea to offer to be the designated driver this year. Everyone will appreciate the good deed, and the responsibility to get your friends and family home safe will stop the peer pressure to ‘get merry’ with a drink or two.
Drinkline is a free, confidential helpline for anyone who is concerned about their drinking, or someone else’s. If you’re feeling like you need a helping hand, Drinkline are there to offer advice and support to callers, as well as information and self-help materials. If you would prefer to chat to someone online, Drinkchat is a great alternative.
Mental health at work?
At Active Care Group, we prioritise the mental health of all staff, which is why we are proud to be partnering with Health Assured as our new Employee Assistance Programme provider.
An EAP is a confidential employee benefit designed to help you deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home life or work life, health, and general wellbeing. This can be anything from stress and anxiety, bereavement, family issues, childcare support, etc. Health Assured’s EAP service provides a complete support network that offers expert advice and compassionate guidance 24/7, covering a wide range of issues. If you would like to reach out for help, Health Assured offers cover for you and your immediate family members*, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by calling 0800 028 0199 :