The Christmas period might be generally considered a happy jolly time but it can be an incredibly difficult time of the year for lots of people, for lots of different reasons. We want to share with you some tips to maintain good mental health over Christmas.
Managing Eating Disorders
Food and gluttony is a large part of the festive season, so it can be an especially difficult time of year for people struggling with eating disorders. Firstly, it might be helpful to acknowledge and be honest about the fact that there will be moments where you feel out of control over the Christmas holiday and expecting these times makes them a little easier. We also advise that you do not avoid food – this will be impossible! Eat little and often to reduce the need to binge and enjoy a little of everything in small doses. Despite the chaos of Christmas season, it’s also important to maintain your CBT appointments during the festive season and to reach out and ask for help when you need it.
There are many people who may struggle with loneliness over the Christmas period including people who don’t live near their friends and family, estranged family members and older people who find the time particularly difficult and reflect more heavily on the people they have lost. Recent research suggests that loneliness can exhibit itself as a physical pain and should not be taken lightly. We strongly advise that you recognise and discuss any triggers or grief with your therapist and make as many social plans as possible. Join local communities, such as crafts groups or church or seek your local volunteers to see if there are events arranged over the Christmas period for people living alone.
Managing Social Anxiety
Christmas is a time of parties and family get-togethers and catching up so it can be a difficult time for anyone suffering with social anxieties. It can be especially hard if you are naturally introverted and spending a lot of time with others makes you feel drained. We recommend setting achievable goals during this period such as meeting friends, family and all those who love you but also setting aside time for yourself, so you can refresh yourself. Have some conversational topics at hand for when there are silences, so you can avoid feeling uncomfortable or lost for words and work on your body language – unclench your jaw and loosen your shoulders, take deep breaths to reduce stress. Social anxiety is very manageable with some CBT sessions so be sure to ask for help if you need it.
From all of us here at Oxford CBT, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!