Christmas is full of joy and celebration for many across the world; however, it can also be very challenging for those already going through difficult times.
If you do find yourself feeling low, anxious or stressed during the festive season, remember that you are not alone.
Here are some things you can do now to be proactive and support your mental wellbeing.
1. Stay in Touch
Never underestimate the positive impact of social connection.
We live in a day and age where you can always find a way to keep in touch with people and speak to someone.
Stay connected to family and friends through phone calls, Skype calls – even something as simple as a text message can brighten up your day.
2. Stay Active
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and building muscle – studies have shown time and time again the numerous benefits for our mental health that come from physical activity.
People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it vastly improves their overall health and wellbeing.
Regular exercise improves our mood and stress levels by releasing endorphins, our feel-good hormones. It promotes better self-esteem which in turn can reduce anxiety, depression and social withdrawal.
Not to mention it has a positive effect on sleep and memory retention.
Something as simple as a 20–30-minute workout or a walk in the fresh air will do your mental health wonders, so keep your body moving.
3. Eat Well
It is important to remember that what we eat and drink will have an impact on how we feel, mentally as well as physically.
Although the festive period is a time to relax and have the foods you enjoy, highly-processed foods are full of additives and refined sugars that can spike your blood sugar causing more stress to the body, which in turn can affect our mood and energy.
Ensure the majority of your daily diet consists of whole, minimally-processed and nutrient dense foods, including plenty of protein and fibrous vegetables, with the odd treat here and there in moderation.
Be mindful of alcohol and caffeine intake as this too can elevate stress levels, impair digestion and affect your sleep.
4. Get Enough Quality Sleep
Improving your sleep quality and quantity goes a long way to improving your stress management and overall mood, and it is completely free!
Practicing good sleep hygiene and incorporating a regular bedtime routine will make a big difference.
Small changes you can make are to darken your room, block out excess noise, ensure your bedroom is a low but comfortable temperature and avoid blue light from electronic devices in the hours before bed.
It can also help to do something relaxing before bed like reading a book, meditating or taking a bath.
Alongside nutritional improvements, supplements such as magnesium can also be highly beneficial in promoting better sleep.
5. Take Time to Relax
During the hustle and bustle of the festive period, do not forget to pause and practice some self-care.
Especially if you are feeling high stress and anxiety, mindfulness and relaxation techniques are important tools you can turn to.
Some examples would be yoga, meditation and gratitude.
Even something as simple as incorporating more “me time” to journal or perhaps write your Christmas cards can prevent a racing mind.
Christmas is a time of giving, so taking the focus away from yourself and using your time and skills to help others is hugely rewarding and can have a positive effect on how we feel.
There are so many ways you can make someone else’s Christmas happier, such as collecting food and clothing for the homeless and underprivileged children.
When we give back, and help those less fortunate, it can bring to light how much positivity we have in our own lives.
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