THE following pieces of advice are worth considering over Christmas, and can also be incorporated into everyday life.
The celebratory spirit of Christmas and New Year often involves social drinking and while alcohol might make you feel more relaxed, it is important to remember that alcohol is a depressant and drinking excessive amounts can cause low mood, irritability or potentially aggressive behaviour. By not exceeding the recommended number of safe units, you will be better able to sustain good mental and physical wellbeing.
The festive period often prompts a desire for many to lose weight in the New Year. Where possible, maintain a good balance of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and omega 3 sources all year to be in good physical condition and have sufficient energy. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can improve your mood and can work towards preventing symptoms of lethargy and irritability.
Physical activity releases endorphins which help you to relax, feel happy and boost your mood. By undertaking simple tasks such as cycling to work, walking in the park, or joining in with Christmas games, you can benefit from experiencing reduced anxiety, decreased depression and improved self-esteem. Recent research has indicated that regular exercise can help to boost our immune systems, enabling us to better fight off colds and flu viruses that are prolific in winter months.
The festive period provides us with an ideal opportunity to talk to, visit or engage with the people around us. Face-to-face communication has been shown to improve our mental and physical wellbeing as this interaction produces the hormone oxytocin, which can benefit our immune system, heart health and cognitive function.
A third of us have a close friend or family member we think is lonely. A Christmas or New Year resolution to see our friends and family more often can help to boost our own mental wellbeing and that of others. If you are apart from your family then volunteering for a charity or local community organisation can provide that same human contact, as well as help provide essential support and encouragement for others in need. These interactions can easily be sustained throughout the coming year and need not just be for Christmas.
STAY IN TOUCH
There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face-to-face, but that’s not always possible. Give them a call, drop them a note or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open – it’s good for you! Christmas can be a good opportunity to reconnect with a card, email or telephone call. Talking can be a good way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head. If something is worrying you, just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. It works both ways: if you open up, it might encourage others to do the same and get something off their mind.
Helping others is good for your own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress, improve your mood, increase self-esteem and happiness and even benefit your physical health. Christmas is a good opportunity to volunteer for a charity or local community organisation and provide support and encouragement for others in need.
TRY TO RELAX
This can be a very busy and stressful time as we prepare to entertain family and friends, worry about cooking Christmas dinner, and fit in present shopping. These feelings of being under pressure can produce symptoms of anxiety, anger and difficulty sleeping. If prolonged this could have a long-term detrimental impact on your mental health and wellbeing. By exercising regularly or practicing mindfulness you can help to alleviate the symptoms of your stress and gain more control to cope with difficult situations. Implementing a new exercise regime or signing up for a course in mindfulness could be your best investment for a more relaxed Christmas and New Year.
Despite many having time off work, our sleep patterns can be disturbed catching up with friends and family and partying. There is mounting evidence on the link between sleep and mental wellbeing. Improving the quality of your sleep could result in better overall mental health. There are several steps you can take: get back to your regular sleep routine as soon as possible after the party period; consume less alcohol; implement regular exercise into your weekly routine; and take measures to alleviate your stress.