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Top tips for looking after your mental health at Christmas

2018-04-05T11:58:20+00:00 December 19th, 2017|blog|0 Comments

Dr Nihara Krause
Consultant Clinical Psychologist

 

Social Anxiety

 

Christmas, with all its various social occasions, can be a nightmare for people with social anxiety. Try and face your anxiety by deciding to go, but chose your challenge – start with a small social event, work up to a bigger one.

 

1. Give yourself some time to get ready – do something relaxing beforehand such as have a bath, watch some TV

2. Arrive at the party before it gets too busy – get there on time or even a little early

3. Prepare some topics you might like to talk about before the party, practice some lines in front of a mirror – sounds daft but it helps to be more fluent

4. Give yourself the opportunity to have a break if it becomes too much – go somewhere quiet, do some breathing, visualise a confident you and go back and face your fear

5. Know in advance when you would like to leave

6. Don’t ‘ self-medicate’ with alcohol – it might initially relax but it will generally add to more anxiety

 

Eating Disorders

 

Christmas with its focus on eating and plenty of treats can be very challenging if you have an eating disorder. For those with anorexia nervosa, it can be frightening to think of facing so much food and for those with bulimia nervosa a fear of how to regulate eating.

 

1. Plan what you think you are going to eat before you go or else eat before you go – stick to your meal plan if you are following one. On the other hand, it can also be a great opportunity to try something new

2. Don’t skip meals during the day in order to cope with going out – this will make you hungrier when you are out and more likely to be out of control

3. Be as honest as you can with family and friends. Make sure they can provide something you can eat

4. Learn how to relax before you join social situations which involve food so that you know what to do to relax when you are in them

5. Have a ready prepared answer for anyone who might comment on your weight, shape or the amount of food you are eating

6. Don’t starve in order to eat at Christmas

 

Depression

 

When you are depressed it’s difficult to find the energy or the motivation to do anything. It’s also easy to feel lonely in your sadness when all around you are making merry.

 

1. Attend Christmas gatherings and take away the pressure you might place on yourself to be the life and soul of the party

2. Give yourself the option of being a listener rather than a contributor

3. Do some extra regular exercise to help reduce lethargy – walking is great

4. Try not to self-medicate with alcohol. This only serves to further depression

5. Take steps to make an effort with your appearance – self-care can help to temporarily alleviate mood

6. Try and connect with people who support and care for you

 

Addiction

 

If you have an addiction or are in recovery, the Christmas period with its surpluses can provide temptations that are hard to resist.

 

1. Keep your schedule of abstinence. If you think there is a risk of lapsing back into alcohol or drug misuse then perhaps don’t attend certain places or events or be with certain groups of people who you know can be triggers

2. Challenge ‘I deserve it’ type thinking that encourages drinking or drug use

3. Practice saying ‘no’ and make sure you say this in situations where you need to in order to protect yourself

4. At a party try and join people who are non-drinkers. If you have a friend who is a non-drinker attending the party, pre-arrange to go to the party together

5. Make a plan to leave early – the later you stay, the higher the likelihood of being tempted

 

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