Mental Health Strategies to Keep You Well at Christmas

Christmas is not far off and it’s easy to get caught up in the swing of things and forget about looking after ourselves.

The holiday season can be particularly tough for people with mental health concerns and the stress of relationships at this time can have a significant impact on how well we manage the flow of family visits, food, holiday silliness and general wellbeing.

Even though Christmas can be an awesome and love filled time for many of us, it can also be a very challenging and anxiety filled time. Sane Australia says that over 690,000 Australians live with complex mental illness (CMI) and that at least 45% of Australians will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. At least 20% of adults will experience mental health issues every year and these statistics don’t just affect the person with the illness, but can affect at least another five people in that person’s personal life.

So when it comes to the holiday season it is vital that we take some time to prepare in advance so that we are less likely to see a spike in our own mental health issues.

Following are just a few things to consider planning for. Over the coming weeks, I will dive a bit deeper into each topic leading up to Christmas.

Be Okay with Being a Party Pooper

Party.jpegMake sure that you know what kind of parties you plan to attend. If healthy eating and careful alcohol consumption are going to be an issue, it might be worth rethinking those parties and going to ones that have a healthier attitude to kicking up your heels and having fun.

Limit or eliminate alcohol use. Generally speaking, if you already take medication of any sort, you should be diligent about alcohol consumption and this is even more crucial if you take psychometric drugs to stabilise your mental health.

Alcohol has a unique effect on each person so it is important to ensure you know how much you can handle or if you can not handle it at all, keep yourself away from environments where the temptation is too great.

Set Healthy Boundaries with Family

Keeping the peace with family can be difficult at Christmas. People are excited but also tired, with many of us travelling long distances to connect with family who we otherwise see little of.

friends-at-a-restaurant

Old sibling rivalries can rise up causing unnecessary tensions felt by everyone and the competition to provide the best presents can wreak havoc on an otherwise civilised and loving group of people.

  • Think about the boundaries that matter to you and that you use in your everyday life to manage your long-term wellness and be intentional about maintaining those boundaries during the holiday season.
  • If need be, speak with your family and share your boundaries. Being proactive and showing your family that you are taking solid steps to look after your health are important steps to indicating your intentions to stay well.

Being clear is often more respected than when we make assumptions that others already know our limitations.

Recognise Early Signs of Stress and Psychological Fatigue

Woman feeling emotional.jpegThis is possibly a challenging task but if you are receiving any kind of therapy, it would be good to talk about how to recognise the early signs of stress and fatigue with your health professional.

These events can put more strain on your mental health so try to take note of how you are feeling physically, emotionally and mentally and keep a simple log to track your days.

It won’t take long before you can see if there are common denominators that precede challenging times and you can use this to keep yourself out of triggering situations and maintain your wellness progress.

Over to You

We’d love to hear your ideas and insights. How do you know if you are tracking well or need to pull back and recalibrate?

2 thoughts on “Mental Health Strategies to Keep You Well at Christmas

  1. Hello do you follow Dr Caroline Leaf? Dr Caroline Leaf is a neuroscientist. She says there is no such thing as mental health issues, there are life experiences.. she says if you are on any pyhositic drugs go to your doctor and get off them as they don’t work never did work it’s all about big phamacial companies making money. Sorry for all the wrong spelling.

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    1. Hey Catherine, so lovely to hear from you.

      I am a big fan of Dr. Leaf actually. My own journey has been significantly influenced by her research and has genuinely enabled me to move forward in great leaps and bounds!

      My hope is not to speak against her research or revelation because I believe it is accurate. I want to support what she and others are doing.

      I also want to help people move from feeling completely overwhelmed – especially those who have unfortunately had negative religious experiences – to see that there is hope and that God wants to heal them; to give them hope to come back into a spirit-led environment and seek their healing through God.

      I also agree that being medication free is the goal but going off medication is not as straight forward as it sounds. It needs to be done in conjunction with your mental health team as some people have very complex medical assessments that need to be considered.

      I am a supporter of being medication free and was for 12 years but am currently taking medication for bipolar disorder which has been extremely helpful in getting me back on track and able to manage my recovery more effectively. In fact, the past 6 months have been extraordinary in that my personal walk with God has deepened and my capacity to focus on him has strengthened and much of these changes have come about because of my medication slowing things down and helping me think things through more effectively.

      Ultimately any change to a person’s medication or therapeutic routine needs to be assessed on a one to one basis in conjunction with prayer and counselling and obviously professional help.

      I hope this answers your thoughts and I really appreciate your point of view and thank you for sharing with me.

      ~ Miriam

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