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People expect the festive season to be filled with happiness and celebration. But for many, it can be a difficult time of year. To help people effectively look after their health and wellbeing at this time of year, we have put together tips for looking after your mental health at Christmas.

Christmas season and depression

The idea of having to appear happy and joyful at Christmas can be stressful for somebody with a mental health condition like depression. Being around festive cheer can also serve as a reminder that they feel quite the opposite, leaving the person wanting to retreat and withdraw from everyone.

If you struggle with depression, it is important to be kind to yourself and not to let what is happening around you make you feel worse – it is ok not to feel joyful and happy at this time of year.

Here are some tips for getting through Christmas when living with depression:

  • It’s ok not to be ok – you don’t have to feel festive. But in moments when you don’t feel ok, speak to somebody you trust. This can often help you to work through your thoughts and emotions. And remember - a problem shared is often a problem halved
  • Try to get involved – try to keep an open mind and attend some social events with your family or friends. You don’t have to go to every party, and don’t feel obliged to stay for a long time. Seeing other people is much healthier than withdrawing and spending all your time alone, which can leave you feeling even worse
  • Try and think positively – writing down three positive points from the day before you go to sleep at night can help you to focus on the good in your life. Reflecting on the same points when you wake up in the morning can then be a helpful way to start your next day

Christmas season and stress

Christmas is a very busy time of year. From Christmas shopping to visiting family and friends, the pressure can be overwhelming, especially for people already dealing with chronic stress.

As it is important to take care of your mind and body during the busy holiday season, here are some tips for getting through Christmas:

  • Use your diary to schedule events – keeping yourself organised can stop your days from quickly becoming stressful, especially if you allocate yourself time for each Christmas related task that needs to be completed. Also remember to book in some time for yourself to give yourself an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate
  • Stop trying to make everybody happy – it’s OK if you can’t be everywhere or do everything. Remember that some things can wait till January – most people will understand at this busy time of year
  • Set yourself a realistic budget – to avoid added stress about your finances over Christmas, set a realistic budget and stick to it

Christmas season and anxiety

Everything can seem more intense at Christmas, what with the crowds, heavy traffic, present buying and social engagements. This can be quite a daunting time for somebody with anxiety.

Here are some tips for getting through Christmas when living with anxiety:

  • Remember to breathe – if you start to feel anxious, check your breathing and make sure you are doing so slowly and deeply. This can help to relax your body and ‘slow down’ your racing thoughts
  • Make a ‘problem list’ – write down all the things that you are worried about. Next, write down what action you can take to help and then tackle each one at a time. This can stop your worries from weighing on your mind, as you come to focus on resolving the concerns rather than ruminating over them
  • Challenge your irrational anxious thoughts – when you have an anxious thought like “people will hate my gifts”, weigh up whether this thought is fact or opinion. If it’s opinion, work on recognising this and swapping the thought for something more rational like “I’ve worked hard to think of personal gifts that I hope everyone will like”.

For more information about the mental health support offered at Priory Wellbeing Centre in Dubai, you can call us on: (+971) 4 245 3800 or send an enquiry onlineMore information about the treatment we offer can be found here.

Mandeep Jassel, Behaviour Analyst
This page was clinically reviewed by Mandeep Jassel (BSc Mental Health Nursing, MSc Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Behavior Analyst DHCC) in December 2019, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in December 2021. Mandeep is a bilingual (English and Punjabi) Behaviour Analyst with over 8 years’ experience in a clinical setting, and treats different kinds of psychological disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression and trauma. Mandeep works in both group sessions and 1:1 therapy sessions. View Mandeep's full profile here.