Looking after your mental health at Christmas

Christmas may be something you look forward to, or it may be a time of year you find a bit tough.

What the festive period brings is individual to each of us.

I write about mental health a lot on the All Things IC blog. Regular readers will know I believe what happens inside is reflected outside, which includes our mental health and wellbeing.

What happens inside is reflected outside

If you’re planning your year-end internal communication, I encourage you to create opportunities to talk about mental health inside your organisation.

Do you have an employee assistance line in place? Remember to communicate details with colleagues, including how to access it and what their festive opening times are.

Do you have mental health first aiders? What stories can you share or advice can you collate to share peer-to-peer?

The Mental Health Foundation website is a fantastic resource if you want to learn more and find guidance to share with your employees. The foundation’s vision is a world with good mental health for all and they want to give people the tools they need to thrive.

I’ve highlighted some of their advice below and I hope you find it useful.

Their website states: “We know this festive period may be particularly difficult for many, so we have created five festive kindness tips to help you during this time.”

Festive kindness tip 1: Express gratitude

Take time to thank someone this festive season who has recently supported you, or shown kindness to you. Living through a pandemic can make it harder to focus on the joyful things in your life, but if you take a moment to reflect back, you can remember the small acts of kindness that you have received in the past, and that memory can make you feel a little bit lighter.
A bonus is that by thanking someone else for their kind gesture you can help them to feel lighter too.
You can also show gratitude towards yourself. Whether it’s managing to get out of bed this morning, or completing a personal project, writing down everything you have managed to accomplish that day can help you reflect on your own achievements and strength.

Festive kindness tip 2: Practice balance and self-care

Take a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling and then make a promise to take time out for you today.  It’s very easy to give away all of your energy this Christmas, especially if you are finding things hard yourself and want to focus on others.
But remember to leave enough for you – as kindness has to start with yourself. So, do something kind today: whether that’s treating yourself to something small, doing something you enjoy or spending some time in nature.
Kindness matters even if that means focusing our energy on our own wellbeing and taking time for ourselves. Be kind this Christmas.

Festive kindness tip 3: Connect to others

Connect with someone experiencing isolation or loneliness, or just a loved one who you miss this Christmas.
People who live alone and feel isolated or live in households where they feel alone, can find that this has a negative effect on their mental health.
By arranging a phone call, video chat or posting a note or a card you can help to combat this loneliness.
So, get creative, get in touch and make a big difference with a kind act today. A Christmas card through a neighbour’s door could be enough to bring a smile to their face.

Festive kindness tip 4: Maintain traditions

Try to maintain traditions this year if they are important to you and your community. Even if restrictions are put in place there are still things you can do to keep a tradition alive while following government guidance because kindness matters in different forms.
Whether it’s cooking a specific meal or decorating the Christmas tree on a certain day, by maintaining these traditions you can provide an act of kindness to yourself and your community.
For those who struggle with an eating disorder, or have in the past, maintaining festive traditions based on eating food can be difficult.
Contact Beat on 0808 801 0677 or on their one-to-one webchat service.

Festive kindness tip 5: Get creative with your gift-giving this year!

Current restrictions and financial difficulties may be creating challenges for you, which might make things pretty stressful when thinking about gift-giving.
Even though you may not be able to visit your favourite stores or spend as much as you usually would, that does not mean you can’t enjoy the gift of giving at all.
Perhaps you could handcraft gifts, donate to a charity, or donate time to help loved ones or a worthy cause this year.

I hope you find this information useful.

Take care of yourself and create time to rest, you’ve worked incredibly hard this year.

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Founder of All Things IC communication consultancy. Chartered PR Practitioner and CIPR Fellow.

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