While it’s a time of celebration for some, Christmas can be an unhappy time for others. This can be due to previous trauma that occurred around this time, money problems or high expectations.
It can leave some people feeling so down that it affects the way in which they participate in the holiday season. If this sounds familiar, there are a few strategies you can use to turn these feelings around.
Tips to help you cope if you get the holiday blues
Take care of yourself
Ensure you know the ways in which you enjoy taking care of yourself. As mums, we quite often put our wellbeing last without realising how central we are to the family unit.
So in the spirit of Christmas, try a ‘self-care advent calendar’ where you write down when and how you will give yourself a treat every day in December. Put it up on the fridge or send it to family members so you are held accountable for completing each self-care activity. It doesn’t have to be expensive or big but it should involve asking your partner, family or friends to watch the kids for an hour or two!
The goal is to carve out some time to pay attention to yourself and to be mindful of where your head is at and how that makes you feel.
When the silly season approaches and you’re running around trying to buy presents within your budget and plan, shop and cook a Christmas meal, it’s inevitable that stress levels increase. It’s this culmination of tiny details that can sometimes cause you to explode or breakdown.
Be mindful about these emotions and when you feel them arise, stop and give yourself permission to breathe. This is the perfect time to check in on that self-care advent calendar. Whether it’s taking a hot bath, going for a movie or a walk, do something that makes you feel happy.
It’s time to grieve
If in the past, Christmas was when you lost a loved one or had a relationship break down, now is the perfect time to talk to someone about what you’re going through mentally and emotionally. You don’t have to relive the feelings of your trauma alone – try reaching out to support groups, family or friends.
If you are unable to reach out to anyone, try instead to turn this grief you feel around and give back – perhaps volunteer at your local children’s hospital or nursing home.
Often times when you are making someone else feel good this can make you feel better, and by doing so, you start to change the feelings associated with this time of year. Instead of isolating yourself from the world to grieve, you may find it helpful, in the spirit of Christmas, to participate in an act of kindness.
The Healthy Mummy Facebook group is a wonderful, safe and non-judgemental place to start connecting with other women who may have experienced what you’re going through. You are not alone!
If you feel like you’re depressed or anxious more often than not and that it’s starting to impact upon your ability to function daily, it’s time to get some help. Make sure you see your GP for where to go next.
For 24/7 emotional support call Samaritans 116 123
This blog was written by Shara Smith who is a psychotherapist and a counsellor with over 12 years of experience in the mental health, life coaching and self-care sector. While she loves her husband and three kids, she also loves watching re-runs of Sex in the City and baking decadent cookies that only she gets to eat.