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14 Dec 2017

Stressmas: tips on how to look after your wellbeing and mental health this holiday season

The holidays can be a challenging time for everybody, whether you're with family and friends or spending it alone. Considering this and reflecting on our research series surrounding mental health and personal well being, the Snook team has submitted their top tips for getting through the Holiday season.

The holidays can be a difficult time and it’s paramount that you look after not only your physical wellbeing, but your mental health as well. The pressures of performing and getting in the ‘festive spirit’ can be challenging and looking after yourself is key – both in and outside of the workplace. We asked our team to come together and share their top tips on how they look after themselves, and others during the festive season.

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1. Don’t feel pressure to do everything

The holidays can fill our calendars pretty quickly. From office drinks to catching up with friends returning for the festive season – it feels like you’re always dashing somewhere for someone. Take a moment when you’re invited to an event to consider your physical and mental state and if you are simply doing too much. It’s ok to say no and make plans with yourself instead.

2. Not every hour is cocktail hour

This time of year can put many in a celebratory mood, which in turn leads to corks  being popped and mulled wine at every turn. Although alcohol can help us relax in the short term it can cause tiredness and a dip in mood the day after.

3. Get some fresh air

When the temperature drops and the days get shorter it’s tempting to stay inside and cocoon until spring arrives. However, staying active and taking  some time for a stroll,  can do wonders for your physical and mental health. It helps to combat tiredness, lifts your mood, and exposes you to some Vitamin D ( you don’t need sunshine, daylight is enough!).

4. Family is who you make it

The holidays can be especially hard for people who find it difficult returning home to their family – or who have no family to return to. Look to friends and communities outside of your family for support. Think about the people who make you feel good about yourself and prioritise making time for them.

5. When life gives you lemons…

Let’s be honest, staying hydrated in the winter can be challenging, from freezing temperatures to the busy holidays, it’s hard to stay on top of our water intake. A good way to tackle this is to drink hot water, lemon, peel and all! Not only will it help combat the dehydration it will fight the cold and give you a desperately needed energy boost.

6. NYE = Not your evening?

New Year’s Eve can often be built up as the biggest night of the year. This comes with an awful lot of pressure to be on form and to enjoy wherever you are (no matter how cold or crowded). The year shift however, can be a great opportunity to reflect and take stock in a calmer way that suits you. If you aren’t feeling it this year, we say listen to your gut!

7. Make sure to enjoy the time and space – stop and take a break

Learn to observe the early signs of feeling overwhelmed. Pay attention to tensions and when you spot them, give yourself permission to step back and take a time out. Doing something that you like, reading a book, going for a walk or taking a nap might help you put some distance between the challenging situation and yourself.

8. Be kind to yourself

New year resolutions can often make us feel like we’re under pressure to achieve impossible goals. Maybe this year resolve to do something you enjoy, rather than something that seems like a punishment. Take up cooking, dance more or go on more adventures! Resetting your intentions in the new year to focus on more joyful activities will take the pressure off and make it something to look forward too.

9. Acknowledge the grief

When everybody seems to feel merry and jolly, grief, loneliness and sadness can come rushing to the surface.  Brushing it under the carpet rarely works in the long-term. It’s good to consider how  you can make space for the pain? Acknowledge that you’re finding it difficult and remember that you’re unlikely to be the only one. 


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10. Stop comparing

Staying digitally hyper connected during the holidays can cause us compare our experiences. Social media can perpetuate feelings of missing out and low self esteem, as our timelines quite often depict the ‘perfect Christmas’. Take some time to unplug from technology, even if it’s just for an hour a day.

11. Do good 

During the Aye Mind project, young people told us that helping others often aided them with their own mental health. If you feel able to, helping others can be fulfilling. Look to your local community and see where you can lend a hand. From serving Christmas dinner at a shelter to donating at a food bank, big or small, helping out is a satisfying and memorable way to give back and help you feel good.

12. It’s good to talk

Lastly, but by no means least – talk. Whether you feel good, bad or completely rubbish, it’s hard to go through it alone, especially during the festive season. Confide in someone you trust,  whether it’s a friend, a member of your family, or a mental health professional, you are never alone.