Christmas is probably one of the most stressful times of year for parents. Whether you struggle with depression and anxiety or not it can become overwhelming. Here’s some tips for parents struggling with their mental health, which can help make things a little easier.
I’m a lover of lists, I have them for everything and they help me see what I need to do & keep me organised. There’s so much going on at Christmas time, school plays, events, you may have work meals, or family & friend get togethers. Grab a Calendar, or use your phone, and write everything on there. I find it helpful to look at my calendar and make myself aware of what’s coming up in the week.
The same goes for gift buying, Christmas cards, meal planning or budget setting, write it down. I find it helps my anxiety to get the the list jobs out of my mind and onto paper. Then I can look at what needs doing and break it down into small manageable tasks.
*Self Care Tip – Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t complete everything on your list, it’s easy when you have depression to label yourself a failure, remember you’re not*
Don’t take on more than you can handle
So leading on from my last tip, don’t do too much. It’s ok to say no to events, and it’s important we set boundaries. We don’t want to add extra stress to what is already a busy time! There is no such thing as Super Mum; No one can do everything alone which leads me onto my next tip…
Ask For Help
So if you have got lots on your plate, ask for help. It’s not a failure, and it’s not weak. Don’t take on everything and run yourself into the ground trying to get it done. I’ve been there and it leaves you feeling down, anxious and can make your already low mood dip lower. Take offers of help, or ask a close friend or relative to help.
*Self Care tip – if you’re overwhelmed, talk to a trusted friend, or peer group if your part of one (I recommend #pndhour on twitter) it can sometimes help to know others feel the same and they can offer advice*
Don’t compare yourself
This is one thing which I talk about every year. Don’t compare your Christmas to anyone else’s. Social media can be great but it can sometimes make us feel utterly rubbish. People share pictures of their beautiful homes, food, fun things they’re doing or a mountain of presents.
Please do not compare yourself – this is a snapshot of someone’s lives and doesn’t reveal the whole picture. I often share this picture from a coupe of years ago, it shows how easy it is to fake a picture online. Remember – You are doing a good job and you are good enough.
During stressful times it’s important we don’t forget to take care of ourselves. Eat well, hydrate, rest. These three simple things can help, I know it’s hard to grab five minutes when your a busy parent but try and make sure you take care of yourself. Your wellbeing needs to be top of your priority list.
We will be running a self Care Advent Calendar throughout December on Instagram and FB; you can follow us and even join in by sharing your acts of self care using hashtag #SelfCareAdvent17
*SelfCare Tip – If things are overwhelming try to take some quiet time for you, try some mindfulness, listen to some music or have a bath. Something nice to help you*
Be prepared for unexpected events
This is more of a be mentally prepared rather than organised tip. When my first baby was born I was so disappointed on her first Christmas. I expected a perfect family Christmas, now a baby was here it would be magical; but I was in the midst of PND & Anxiety and felt numb. My baby was only 2 months old so didn’t obviously care or know it was Christmas and it wasn’t how I imagined. The next year, I hoped it would be better as she was older. However, we all ended up with Norovirus and I was admitted to hospital on Christmas Day. The next year was lovely, then the year after we were due to move before Christmas, but because of delays we didn’t and I had to unpack everything and arrange Christmas quickly.
Basically I had high hopes each year for a ‘perfect’ Christmas, but sometimes things happen out of our control. Anxiety, can be triggered by lack of control so this contributed to my low mood around these times. Try to let go of ‘perfection’ – not that it really exists – and remember that things might not be as planned, but they can still be good.
Remember your medication & keep therapy appointments
This is so important – with everything going on it can be easy to forget medication, or cancel an appointment. If you’re worried you may forget your medication, set an alarm on your phone so you don’t. If you’re busy and tempted to cancel therapy, don’t! I had appointments between Christmas and new year, it really helped me when I was unwell. It made me stop, slow down, and reminded me of the coping techniques which helped.
Be mindful of being merry
If alcohol is a trigger for you, try to limit it, or avoid it all together. Drinking can be a depressive and while it can make you feel good to begin with, too much can also cause negative emotions. You can find out more here
Get out in the fresh air
I’ve mentioned it a few times in the past but getting out of the house, feeling the fresh air and walking can do wonders. Exercise is great at busting anxiety and boosting our mood. So grab the coats, scarfs and gloves and go for a family winter walk!
One good thing a day
At the end of each day, look back and find something positive from the day. Maybe it’s something simple like a cuddle with your baby, or writing your Christmas cards, or maybe you overcame some anxiety or got something difficult done. Whatever it is, congratulate yourself, be proud of every step.
Finally, try to enjoy the little things
I know it’s hard when you have depression, anxiety or any other mental illness around Christmas. It is tough anytime, but it can seem heightened during the festive period. Is a time we are ‘suppose’ to feel happy, and it
seems everyone else is. We can will ourselves to enjoy it, but truth is when you’re depressed, that’s really hard and can cause us to feel lower because we aren’t.
Try to take some mindful moments, enjoying a warm hot chocolate, singing songs, watching a movie or decorating the tree with the children, all these little things can be helpful.
If you’re struggling you are not alone. Please do reach out – you can contact Samaritans Free on 116 123 they’re open 24/7 and even Christmas Day.
What’s your top tips for surviving Christmas time?