Monday, 18 December 2017

Mental Health Mondays #16 : Festive Special 🎄

Welcome to my extra-special festive Mental Health Monday! In this post I want to focus a little bit on Christmas and mental health and what it means to me. As always, this post is based upon my experience and I'm not trying to put forward any views other than my own so please take that into account as you read - Thanks!

'It's the most wonderful time of the year', it's a time for celebrating; spending time with loved ones and generally enjoying yourself. However, it's unfortunately not quite as simple as "It's Christmas lets put all our troubles away and just enjoy ourselves!" for those of us with mental health conditions. There's usually a lot going on, there are lots of responsibilities and expectations on you and as well as being expected to buy loads of presents and wrap things and cook for 99 people, or whatever your Christmas set up is, you're supposed to put on a big smile and be sociable and cheery regardless of anything else that's going on!

Sometimes the festive season can be a really good time for me mentally, sometimes I'm able to do all of those things and enjoy myself thoroughly but sometimes it can be really difficult and the main purpose of this post is for me to say that it is okay to still be unwell even though it is Christmas. Simple as that. Any other time of the year you'd try to listen to what your mind and body are telling you that they're up for doing and the Christmas season should not be a time that you feel you must do differently. Looking after yourself is the most important.

Personally, I find exposure to large groups of people and extensive social obligations to be very exhausting when I'm not doing well, and so some years the large variety of Christmas parties/concerts/socials which all seem to appear at the same time can be very difficult to manage. It's only recently that I've come to realise that this isn't a sign of weakness, it's simply that at most other points during the year I simply do not have that much pressure put upon me, and most of that pressure I have put upon myself by trying to do everything that I feel I should. So I think it's time that I try to shift my perspective over to look at all of the good things which I have successfully achieved and attended throughout the festive season rather than focussing on how unwell I felt at this thing or how I haven't been able to that thing I said I would.

My suggestion to you (and to myself) is that in the run up to Christmas over the next few days, if you're worried about how you are going to cope with whatever things you find challenging about this season, you take a bit of time to reflect on how you're doing; what you have already achieved and maybe just set yourself small targets for what you want to do rather than overwhelming yourself in what needs to be done.
E.g. if you went to your work's party, even if you only stayed an hour, I'd call that a big success, so celebrate it! You need to get some presents but you're worried about braving the town by yourself? Maybe find someone who understands to go with you, or plan out where you think you'll be able to get what you're looking for before you go so you're not stuck wandering the aisles in as much of a panic.

I just want to emphasise the importance of doing things in manageable proportions, this goes for all year round but especially at Christmas. Make sure you're looking after yourself, if you feel overwhelmed because all your relatives have come to visit and your house is really loud, do what you need to do to calm down. Sneak off for a bath and read your book; go out for a walk to get some peace (if you need company make sure you don't go alone and also keep yourself safe please!). Just because it is Christmastime this doesn't mean that you'll be able to cope with things that you couldn't usually and that is okay. 

So to wrap up (present pun soz), please don't over work yourself this festive season; make sure you look after yourself and take time to focus on your own wellbeing as well as having fun. If you find things difficult don't overwork yourself because you think it's what the season expects of you. People will be understanding if you don't manage to do everything and most importantly you'll be keeping yourself safe. Also, if you have a close friend or family member who may be struggling try and check in on them (whether in real life or via text or call) just to see how they're doing and if they want your support through anything you've given them the option to say so. Such a simple message can make a lot of difference so I think that it's worth it.

Thank you so much for reading, shockingly this will be the last MHM of 2017 so if you have anything you want to say about any posts this year then please do leave me a comment! I pray that each and everyone of you has a peaceful and happy Christmas, and most importantly that you look after yourselves 🎄💛


  1. Hi there! I found your blog via the Mental Health Bingo posts on Of Wonderland. Ah, this post would have comforted me quite a bit, Sarah, because I tend to have really high expectations of myself and of my family. We're Muslim, so Christmas isn't as much of a celebration. Still, I tried to have some family hang out sessions, all of which backfired. I like what you said about meeting small targets throughout the holiday season. And, Inge mentioned gratitude being a helpful habits, so I have half-heartedly been trying to incorporate that in my daily reflections and prayers. I'm going to see if your blog is on Bloglovin, so I can come back and visit regularly. I hope we become good friends. Also: I am wishing you a much belated Merry Christmas, and (an early) a Happy New Year!

    1. Ah this is so kind thank you! I'm glad you found this somewhat helpful; I agree with Inge about gratitude as well although it certainly isn't always easy! I am on bloglovin so I hope you manage to find me! Happy new year to you too.