The Christmas period can be a time of great happiness and fun for many people but can be very difficult for others. There will be those who feel a sense of obligation and over commitment to social activities they’d really rather not attend. There will also be those who will experience loneliness or a deep sense of sadness because of the absence of those with whom they have spent past Christmases but have now lost through death or other forms of separation.
Each person and each person’s needs and emotions are different, but it is important for all of us that we look after ourselves and are kind to ourselves. “It’s ok not to be ok” at Christmas as at any other time, despite the messages we might be get from so many sources. If you don’t feel great, you’re not alone.
As well as being kind to ourselves, we can also be kind to each other. It has been demonstrated that showing kindness is not only good for the person to whom we are kind but has a positive impact on our own sense of wellbeing.
Whatever we might be feeling, we could express gratitude; taking time to thank someone who has shown kindness in the past year, sending a card, giving flowers or calling someone. These gestures can often lead to positive and unexpected consequences. We could notice the small things; bulbs just beginning to appear and days just starting to lengthen.
The Mental Health Foundation has advice for those who rather than being lonely or feeling bereft for whatever reason may feel there are too many things to do and overwhelmed by the festivities. These suggestions include:
- Balancing your sense of social obligations with the need to be kind to yourself.
- Practising self-care and taking time to reflect on how you are feeling. Christmas can take a lot of time and energy. A return to work exhausted will not be the best way to start the New Year.
- Having realistic expectations about family gatherings, tensions can run high especially when everyone wants to have a happy time. If things are getting a little ‘tough’ take some time out and go for a walk or find a quiet space and read a book or listen to music.
Finally, If you need someone to talk to:
Samaritans. Call 116 123 available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) for men. Call 0800 58 58 58. 5pm to midnight every day.
Papyrus for people under 35. Call 0800 068 4141. 9 am to 10 pm weekdays, 2 pm to 10pm weekends and Bank Holidays.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) for anyone who has been affected by death by suicide. Call 0300 111 5065. 9 am to 9 pm Monday to Sunday.