A Christmas message – take care and look after yourself

Christmas means many things to many people. It’s absolutely my favourite time of the year. A time to relax, unwind and, most importantly, spend time with family and friends. I love the coming together, the joy on faces, the laughter and the memories which are created. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. It’s important to remember that some people simply don’t like the festive season and can’t wait to see the back of it, for varying reasons. Some just don’t have those close relationships. Some have a real issue with the intense commercial / materialistic elements of it, particularly the relentless pressure to spend, spend, spend. Some find it fraught and angst-inducing, particularly the feeling of needing to make ourselves available for every invite. Some will miss loved ones who are no longer with us, especially if that pain is recent and raw.

I’m reluctant to say have a wonderful Christmas here as I know that won’t be the case for everyone. Given the core reason for starting this blog (an attempt to open up the mental health discussion), I’d rather say please do whatever you need to do to maintain peace of mind and get through the festive period unscathed.

If that involves spending time with friends and family, then enjoy it, embrace it and savour every moment as this life is fleeting.

If that involves sitting on the couch and bingeing on festive movies or box-sets whilst eating chocolate and drinking egg-nog, then do it. Don’t feel guilty – this is your life, not somebody else’s.

Alternatively, if that means participating in activities which clear your head, and give you clarity of thought and purpose, then just do it. Head to the gym, go for the run, have a few dry days when you don’t drink alcohol or eat junk food. Just do whatever makes you feel good and happy about yourself.

However, if making it through involves doing whatever you need to do to just survive without cracking, please think of yourself and aim to do that. Don’t feel obliged to say ‘yes’ to every invite. Don’t feel that you have to hit the sales or the shops. Don’t feel you have to be awake to see in midnight on the 31st December if you don’t want to. Don’t feel obliged to follow the perceived societal norms, especially if they will make you feel anxious, depressed or have any other sort of impact on your mental health. Find whatever coping mechanisms work for you and adopt them. This is your life at the end of the day – please consider what is right and what works best for you. You may be running around trying to do the best for everyone else and pleasing everybody but you really do matter too – please don’t forget that.

Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how lengthy that tunnel may seem. There is no blanket approach to the festive season that suits everyone, so do as you see fit, in a manner which suits you. Hopefully that will mean you are surrounded by love, warmth and people who enrich your life but if not, there is always someone to talk to or a shoulder to lean on somewhere. Should you be struggling, there are some important links at the foot of this post. Please do consider accessing them.

Take care, enjoy (if it is possible to do so), and have a happy, healthy and peaceful festive period.

Best wishes,

Mick

The Samaritans ( https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/ )

Phone: 116213

Mind ( https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/ )

Phone: 0300 1233393

Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line ( http://www.rethink.org/about-us/our-mental-health-advice )

Phone: 0300 5000927

Saneline ( http://www.sane.org.uk/what_we_do/support/helpline/ )

Phone: 0300 3047000

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