Traditionally, Christmas is known for being a time of much celebration and spending time with loved ones and whilst many of us may be enjoying the festive spirit, for those struggling with a mental health condition, this can be a really difficult time of year.
It’s extremely important to recognise that if you’re struggling you’re not alone and mental health problems during the Christmas period actually affect a larger amount of us than we think. From a survey conducted by YouGuv, one quarter of those surveyed say that the festive season makes their mental health much worse, with a survey from the Mental Health Foundation showing that 54% of people were worried about a loved ones mental health over Christmas.
Below are the most common mental health issues seen in this festive period, along with symptoms for recognising them.
Depression – Whilst society tells us that Christmas is a time for happiness and family celebration, those who struggle with depression may see these as pressures to constantly be happy, which can make someone feel much worse. The main symptoms of depression can include; anxiety, low energy and feeling worthlessness.
Anxiety – During the festive season, everything can be much more intense from music to crowds and traffic. These together can be daunting for many and especially more intense for those who struggle with anxiety. Being aware of the symptoms can help those who suffer with anxiety to work to minimise them for events that may trigger anxiety attacks. The main symptoms associated with anxiety can include; a constant sense of dread/ worry, feeling intense and light-headed.
Stress – Nearly all of us experience some levels of stress during Christmas due to the ongoing lists of tasks we have. For those who struggle with chronic stress, this time of year can be very overwhelming and exhausting. As this season can be such a big cause for much stress, it’s extremely important to recognise symptoms as early as possible. The most significant symptoms of stress can include: anxiety and worry, the feeling of losing control, difficulty in making decisions and the inability to rest.
Loneliness – The pressures from social media can create a perception that we have to have a great time at Christmas and this can lead to us feeling increasingly lonely with a sense of emptiness. As the feelings of loneliness and the many mental health issues discussed above are strongly linked, loneliness may be a symptom of a mental health problem and can become an even bigger problem if steps aren’t taken to attempt to address it.
As mental health is something that affects a large amount of us, if not all of us in some way or another, self-care is extremely important.
A few ways to help manage your mental health over the festive season can include:
- Always remembering to be kind to yourself and that it’s okay to put yourself first.
- Trying to limit your social media activity to reduce social comparisons.
- Not being afraid to take a little break.
- Trying to participate in your local community.