Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arboricultural Association.

Share this story

Topics

#ARBatwork #ArbMatters #PledgeLessPlastic & 12 Faces of Arb 1987 storm 2 Rope 2018 30 Under 30 3ATC 3ATC UK Open 50th annual AA AA award AA Awards Aboricultural Association Accident accreditation Addiction advice AFL aftercare AGM Agrilus Biguttatus aid air quality Alert Alex Kirkley All Party Parliamentary Group on Horticulture amenity Amenity Conference Anatomy Ancient Tree Forum Annual Awards Anthropology APF APF 2020 APF 2022 app APPGHG application Appointment apprentice apprenticeship Apprenticeships Approved Approved Contractor Approved Contractors ARB ARB Approved Contractor ARB Approved Contractors ARB at work ARB Magazine ARB Show arb training ArbAC ARBatwork ArbCamp Arbor Day Arboricultural Association Arboricultural Student Arboriculture arborists Arbsafe Ash Ash Archive ash dieback Asian Hornet Assessments atf ATO Australia Autumn Review award Awards Barcham Trees Bark Beetle Bartlett Bartlett Tree Experts bats beetle beyond ism Bill Matthews biochar biodiversity biomechanical biosecurity Book Prize Book Shop Books Bookshop boundaries branch Branches brand Brexit bs5837 Budgeting Tool bursary business Call for Abrstacts Call for papers Campout Canker stain of plane carbon career careers Cavanagh CCS Cellular Confinement Cellular Confinement Systems CEnv CEO Ceratocystis Ceratocystis platani chainsaw chalara charity Charles charter Charter for Trees Chartered Environmentalist chelsea Chelsea Flower Show Claus Mattheck climate climate change climber climbing Cofor Colleges committees competition competiton conference Confor conifers conservation Consultant consultation Continuous Professional Development Contractor Contractors Cornwall Cornwall Branch Coronavirus Coroner Council Countryside Countryside Code Countryside Stewardship Course for beginners COVID-19 CPD cross industry news Crown & Canopy Cryphonectria parasitica Cumbria DART Date for your diary deadwood death debate Debt defra Design Devon Director disease diversity document donate dothistroma downloads draft Dutch elm EAC East Anglia ecology Economic Report economy Ecotricity education EFUF Election elections Electricity Elm yellows Emerald Ash Borer England England Tree Action Plan England Tree Strategy English Elm environment environmental EPF equipment Europe European Arboricultural Council European Forum on Urban Forestry European Wood Pastures Event exeter Exhibitors Fall from Height Fatal Fatality felling Fellow Fellow Members Fera Field Trip Finance Fine firewood First Aid FISA flood flooding for Forest Research forestry Forestry Commission forests freelancers FSC Fund4Trees funding fundraiser fungal fungi Future Flora Futurebuild gardening GDPR Geocells Gold Medal Gov.uk government grant grants Grapple Saws Green Brexit Green Infrastructure Green Infratructure Green Recovery Green Up Guarantee guidance Guidance Note Guidance Note 2 guide guides Hazard Tree Health heart-rot Hedgerow hedges Helliwell Help Henry Girling Henry Kuppen History HMRC HOMED Homeworking Honey Brothers honours Horse Chestnut HortAid horticulture horticulturists HortWeek housing HRH HRH Prince Charles HS2 HSE HTA ICF ICoP identification Immigration import industry Industry Code of Practice industry skills Infographic InfraGreen Initiatives Inspiration Insurance Intermediate Tree Inspection International Urban Forestry Congress International Women’s Day International Year of Plant Health invertebrates Investigating Tree Archaeology Conference Ips typographus Irma irrigation ISA iso i-Tree IUFC IWD21 Job job opportunity jobs judgement JustGiving Karabiner Kew Kit land-based Landsaping Landscape Institute Landscape Show landscaping Lantra law Leaf Minor Lectures legal legislation Letters Liability licence London longevity LTOA Lynne Boddy Magazine Managegement Plan manifesto maple Mayor of London MBE Melbourne Member Benefit Member Survey Membership Mental Health mentor Midlands moth' motion Myerscough NASA National Geographic National Hedgerow Week National Tree Safety Group National Tree Week NATO Natural England NatureScot Netherlands New Year’s Honours News NHS nominations Northern Northumberland Notice notification NTIS NTOA NTOC NTSG Nurseries oak 'oak Oak Processionary Moth Oak-boring Beetle obituary Observatree occupation online opm Padua Papua parks parliament Perennial Pests & Diseases Pests and Diseases Petersfield petition Petzl photo Phytophthora plan planning Planning Law Plant Health planting Plantsman Pledge Plumpton College policy poll Poster Power PPE Preston Twins Prince Charles Prince of Wales processionary Product Recall Professional Members prosecution Protect and Survive protected tree protection Qualifications Queen’s 70th Jubilee Questionnaire Quotatis ramorum RC Recruitment reference Reg Harris Registered Registered Consultant Registered Consultants Rehab Rememberance Day renewal REnvP Report Rescue research Research grant Resilience response results Retirement retrenchment review RFS rhs RHS Chelsea Flower Show Ride for Research Ride4Research rigging Rodney Helliwell rogue tree surgeons Royal Forestry Society RSFS Safe Working Practice Safety Safety Bulletin Safety Guides Safety Notice Saftey Sale school Scotland Scotland Branch Scottish Branch SDG Accord security Seed Gathering Season Seminar seminars Share Sheffield Show Sierra Leone Site Guidance skills skills survey SocEnv Social Benefits of Trees soil soils South East South East Branch South West Speaker spotlight SRT SRWP staff Standards statement Stationary Rope Stationary Rope Technique statutory STIHL Stonehouse strategy student Student Book Prize Student Conference Study Trip Sub-contractors Supporter survey Sustainable Soils Alliance Sweet Chestnut sweet chestnut blight symposium T Level T Levels Tatarian maple TDAG technical guide Technical Guides Technical Officers Technical Team Technician Members Technology Ted Green tender TG3 Thames & Chiltern The Arboricultural Association The Plantsman’s Choice The Queen’s Green Canopy The Woodland Trust Thinking Arbs Thinking Arbs Day Timbersports Tony Kirkham Tools top-handled chainsaws,Elcoat, TPBE4 TPO Trading Standards trailblazer training transport Tree Tree Care Tree Champion Tree Council Tree Fayre Tree Health Tree Health Week Tree Inspection tree loss tree management Tree of the year Tree Officer Tree officers tree planning Tree Planting Tree Production Innovation Fund Tree Protection tree register Tree Risk Tree Shears tree species Tree Supply Tree Surgeon Tree Surgeons Tree Week Tree Work at Height Tree Workers Zone TreeAlert Treeconomics tree-felling TreeRadar trees trees' Trees & Society Trees & Sociey Trees and Society Trees for Cities Trees, People and the Built Environment trust' trustee Trustees TrustMark Two Rope two-rope UAG Uitlity UK favourite ukas UKWAS urban urban forest Urban Forestry Urban Tree Challenge Urban Tree Challenge Fund Urban Tree Cover Urban Tree World Cup urban trees Utility Arboriculture Group UTWC vacancy VETcert veteran trees video Videos Virtual ARB Show volunteer voting VTA WAC Wales Wales Branch Warning Watering watering solutions Webinar webinars website Western Westonbirt Wharton White Paper WIA Witley Women Women in Arb women in arboriculture woodland Woodland Carbon Code Woodland Carbon Guarantee woodland trust woods Work at Height Workshops World Environment Day World Fungi Day Xylella young Young Arboricultural Professional young arborists Young People’s Breakfast Event Young Tree Aftercare zoo

Mental Health at Christmas: Some Tips for Coping

Author:  rehab4addiction
  17/12/2021
Last Updated:  17/12/2021

In this post, we share our infographic looking at mental health at Christmas. The infographic offers up a number of tips to help those who are suffering from ill-mental health issues during this time of year.

Source: rehab4addiction

Christmas can be an isolating time for everyone, and it’s okay to prioritise yourself in a time of giving.

The Christmas and New Year might seriously affect mental health, the pressure and expectations can be grave, which is why coping strategies are as important as ever.

Below, we have showcased our latest infographic offering, this time with a seasonal theme, i.e., that of Christmas.

This infographic aims to visually present the scale of negative mental health issues faced by some people in the UK during this time of year, together with common reasons why people may be negatively impacted by Christmas.

Lastly, the infographic offers some useful tips to help alleviate the situation:

Mental Health at Christmas Infographic

The New Normal

Despite mental health being an ever-growing topic of debate, the binary feelings at Christmas are meant to be joyous and exciting, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

If you have suffered from ill mental health, it’s easy to be overwhelmed quickly by social gatherings, money issues, and the new Covid pandemic.

The weight of having a good time can often lead to anxiety.

Individuals prone to anxiety are experienced in this feeling; the worry about events surrounding Christmas can suck all the joy out of the holidays.

Avoid comparing yourself to others, this can have a tremendous impact on how we view ourselves and how we manage expectations.

Occasionally, comparison can be a motivator, inspiring us to achieve.

The only thing we want to achieve this Christmas is the management of mental health.

Limiting exposure to exaggerated social media and television can help reduce this. Adverts and Christmas films are a key to the Christmas spirit, but they also unlock to door to self-judgment.

The reality is that Christmas is about celebrating what you have, however much that may be.

Covid-19 has been a catalyst for the downfall of mental health. Many of us spent months cooped up inside and are expected to suddenly re-join society and gatherings.

For many extroverts, this may be an easy re-settlement back into life, but for introverts and those will ill-health, it has proven to be more difficult.

One survey found that 1 in 4 suffers from ill-mental health each year on average. [1]

The lack of time with loved ones this year places greater emphasis on family time this Christmas.

You mustn’t also forget to be patient with yourself, we have all been through a lot this past year or two.

If you have become akin to working from home, then managing your social life from zoom or WhatsApp is equally as special as meeting friends at the pub.

Life has changed, and so should our expectations. Being realistic in this difficult time is critical in the avoidance of disappointment and arguments, a facilitator for mental health.

Coping with Anxiety and Stress

For some, Christmas brings joy and relaxation, for many others, it brings only anxiety.

Becoming overwhelmed is common; several people feel stressed about gifts, travelling home and seeing family for the first time in a while.

This can lead to restlessness and lack of sleep, making your anxiety worse.

This can also lead to depression when reality and expectations don’t quite match up.

One way to manage this stress is keeping it all simple:

  • Do all Christmas cards early and get them out of the way
  • Don’t cook or make everything yourself – delegate
  • Gift cards are always a winner
  • Stay physically active
  • Create an anxiety plan, knowing yourself is crucial. Making sure you can cancel all your plans ‘just in case’ helps a lot of people
  • Plan ahead!

Planning Ahead

If you normally find holidays isolating, or have recently lost loved ones, you may not want to spend Christmas alone.

Many organisations can offer support this Christmas and finding out what your local town has to offer may provide you with vital support.

This can come in the form of volunteering; being with others in a similar situation can ease the anxieties you may be feeling.

It can also offer a sense of purpose, and a reminder that everyone’s happiness is relative.

Planning ahead allows you enough time to manage expectations and take a break to prevent high-stress levels.

Scheduling in activities that you find relaxing, such as walking or listening to music will help you unwind.

This can be hard to do with the amount of expected Christmas responsibilities, so planning in advance can help you fit your regular activities in.

In order to feel settled and grounded, keeping a routine that’s relatively parallel to your binary week can help keep your emotions steady.

Eating Disorder Management

Saying no to friends and family can be difficult. However, setting social and emotional limits and boundaries is critical for your mental wellbeing.

If you are planning your activities in advance, maybe try and plan how others might be feeling or behaving at this time too.

Ensuring that others understand your need for some distance or preference on socialising can avoid the tension that so many of us dread.

It is tempting to indulge socially, mentally, and physically at Christmas.

Spending a lot of time at home can lead to a feeling of claustrophobia. This is made worse by over-eating and drinking in excess.

This isn’t to say don’t eat your homemade mince pies, but the emotional and physical bloat can leave you feeling more negative than before.

Christmas is renowned for being food-orientated, this isn’t helped by the adverts and meals that we are expected to attend.

If you suffer from an eating disorder, this can make you want to literally ‘tap out’ of Christmas and other events.

Encouragement from others to indulge in food can be stressful and emotionally taxing. [2]

It can cause pressure to eat and the worry of binging. Planning ahead for those with ED’s can really help:

  • If you can, sit next to someone that supports you, and possibly copy their portion so you don’t feel observed
  • Try and participate in conversation during the meal or snacks, removing the focus from food
  • Try and distract yourself after the meal to avoid urges. Possible watch a film or play games

Holiday Highs

Getting through the Christmas period with addiction or worries regarding drugs and alcohol can cause a lot of stress.

Alcohol is also a depressant; although it’s a temporary feeling of euphoria, and can ease social situations, keeping a tab on how you’re feeling can help prevent any negativity following excessive consumption.

It’s easy to slip into ‘one more’ drink; everyone starts drinking at different times, normally earlier, and more often.

This lack of routine can lead someone with a drinking problem into a downward spiral.

Whilst many state that drinking is a sign of celebration, for some, drinking at Christmas is related to stress, playing a large role in over-consumption.

Alcohol is also a depressant; although it’s a temporary feeling of euphoria, and can ease social situations, keeping a tab on how you’re feeling can help prevent any negativity following excessive consumption.

Many individuals use alcohol to dampen feelings of depression and sadness, but this often leads to a spiral of negativity and worsening effects.

If you’re spending the holiday in recovery, you may be faced with:

Maintaining sobriety for those in recovery should be the main focus for them during the holidays. This is why being patient with yourself, and self-management are the biggest tips for Christmas.

Prioritise yourself, your sleep, and your mental health in order to be in with the best chance of prolonging sobriety.

For many, they opt to spend Christmas under the influence of less socially acceptable substances.

Christmas is hard for users and their families, there are expectations of perfection and ideals we think we need to reach.

The reality is that it’s just another day of celebrating what we have.

However, this pressure forces drug users to hide their habits, even more, going to dramatic lengths to use in order to cope on the day.

For example, many individuals get anxious when they’re high, a common symptom.

This can lead them to use more until their anxiety subsides but produces a worse come down.

People also tend to drink lots to try and mask drug use, but all this does is put the user at more of a health risk.

Drugs can mask the effects of drugs, leading many to use more and more often.

The risk of overdose is then higher, and your comedown is likely to have a massive impact on mental health.

Tips for users:

  • Talk to people you trust. This can help relieve the feelings of isolation.
  • Make notes of what you have used, when, and where. Keeping a diary of this can highlight what may make you want to use and can prevent overdosing
  • Be patient with yourself – you may believe your family will judge you heavily, but the reality Is that they love you and want to help
  • Celebrate small steps. Christmas is hyped up to be a day where you are expected to feel happy, but just start by enjoying a day doing what makes you smile
  • Try and find distractions – taking people on walks with you and not spending time alone can limit your use

Seasonal depression

Reduced exposure to sunlight can cause seasonal depression. Less time outside and in the sun can disrupt your body, leading to a drop in serotonin.

This can occur in summer or winter, but it’s usually when the winter months set in. [3]

Also known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), SAD can explain why you suddenly feel low when the winter months occur. Mood and energy tend to drop, and it can become difficult to keep up with your usual routine.

Talking about mental strains or pressures can help make it more ‘acceptable’ to others. Of course, it’s always better to talk about it, but some people aren’t aware until you tell them.

Mental health is as much about coping and maintaining positivity as it is about illness. Once you start talking about it you will realise how common mental health problems are.

Roughly 1 in 10 people suffer from mental health. A study showed that 792 million individuals in 2017 lived with a mental health disorder, all coming in various forms. [4]

Consider talking to your GP or friends and family about SAD. It’s highly common and support can really help.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Losing interest in activities and energy
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Low energy and trouble sleeping
  • Feelings of helplessness and worthlessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety and violent behaviour episodes

Support

If you think someone else is struggling, here is how to have a conversation about mental health:

  • Ask open questions – this allows them to tell you as much as they feel comfortable with
  • Keep the conversation informal – they might not be comfortable if you start talking about doctors
  • Let them see they are not alone – If you struggle as well, tell them
  • Be patient – don’t expect too much from one conversation, everyone is different in how they approach mental health
  • If they look uncomfortable, try messaging them later on instead

If someone tries to talk to you about their health, don’t compare yourself or judge them. Offering to help people, as little as it may help, is still helping. Sometimes merely offering can really help people.

Giving genuine encouragement to others offers reassurance and emotional support.

People don’t always know what they need or want, often masked by how they’re feeling. Keep your body language open and let people know you’re there to listen and not to judge.

Signs of people struggling at Christmas:

  • Eating disorders
  • Panic and anxiety attacks
  • Flashbacks and PTSD
  • Manic episodes
  • Sweating or constant flushing from rushing everything

We must all understand that Christmas is different for everyone. Some people always have the ‘advert-perfect’ Christmas, and some are constantly grieving losses from previous holidays.

Understanding this difference is crucial, try not to ask everyone if they had a great Christmas or what they got this year under the tree.

Losing intrusive questions and assumptions can make it easier for people to speak out.

Simply asking them if they are okay and coping is great. Reducing the stigma behind mental health is a great step forward for everyone, creating a safe space is more important than a ‘perfect’ Christmas.

Tips for Coping

Here is a summary of things mentioned that could help you this Christmas:

  • Have patience with yourself and others
  • Manage expectations – perspectives
  • Talk to friends and family
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
  • Plan ahead as much as you can
  • Enjoy yourself but limit things like alcohol if you know you have a history with it
  • Try and exercise or get outdoors often
  • Help others – volunteering

The new normal has changed; covid and long-term isolation periods have forced us into a new way of life. Being overwhelmed at Christmas is normal, now more than ever.

Managing expectations is key, the ideology is perfection is relative. Avoid comparing yourself to others and expecting too much.

Christmas is a time to enjoy and give back, but that isn’t to say don’t make time for yourself.

If you are having money issues or struggle with social interaction or substances, this can all lead to ill mental health. Managing these problems is more important than trying your best to make a ‘perfect’ Christmas.

If you need someone to talk to or are looking for more tips, reach out to us or a trusted individual.

Further Sources of Help

References

[1] https://yougov.co.uk/topics/health/articles-reports/2019/12/18/christmas-harms-mental-health-quarter-brits

[2] https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/your-stories/five-questions-about-christmas-eating-disorder/

[3] https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health

[4] https://www.caba.org.uk/help-and-guides/information/how-start-conversation-about-mental-health

[5] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad.htm

Source: rehab4addiction