Seasonal advice for your mental wellbeing

Christmas and New Year can be a difficult time. For many of us it brings pressures and problems to bear. Here is some advice for over the holidays.

Be careful about comparing yourself to others at Christmas

Unrealistic media and advertising versions of other people’s festive celebrations can make us feel less positive. Be realistic about your own expectations. Make plans for how you will spend the time over Christmas. Build time in for yourself to treat yourself whether it be reading a new book, going out for coffee or a meal.

Participate in your local community or social groups

Christmas can be a time of increased loneliness and isolation. Many organisations offer support at Christmas and finding out what is available in your local area may be helpful. Local libraries, community centres social media and newspapers are good sources of information. Volunteering is one good way of reducing loneliness and having a sense of purpose if you would otherwise be spending Christmas alone. Try to connect into local groups and not spend too much time alone. You might like to go to community Christmas lunches that happen across the city.

Connect with other people in similar situations

Don’t allow your normal routines to be pushed out of place. Try to go to your regular support groups such SMART, NA and AA over the holiday period for support. You could even consider going to extra meetings. 5 WAYS and Forward Leeds also have groups running. Find out more about Forward Leeds and 5 WAYS groups.

Plan to keep things problem free

Think about what people or situations may trigger negative feelings or behaviours and figure out ways to avoid them. If going to New Year’s party might be a trigger decide to just stop by on New Year’s Day and see the same people. Try to avoid people or places that may bring back memories of unhappy experiences or that might cause you to think about misusing substances. If you are unable to avoid these, think about making a plan ahead of time to cope with them as well as you possibly can. Your Key Worker can help you with this.

Keep active

Keeping physically active can help with your mood as well as improve your health. Try to schedule in some time every day for walking, swimming or gardening or whatever activity you prefer. These will all help you to sleep better too.

Don’t give up.

If you have a moment of frustration or sadness then let it pass and go on. Just because you feel bad for a few minutes doesn’t mean you give up the rest of the day or use substances to deal with it. Try to let these emotions just pass through you. Remember, no emotion lasts forever, even though it might feel that way at the time. Use distractions if possible to turn your attention elsewhere. Use the useful phone numbers for help and support linked below if you need to. These services understand how difficult this time of year can be and are ready to offer support to those who need it.