Coping with Christmas
Posted Wednesday 23 December 2009
Christmas can be a stressful time for anyone, but can be particularly difficult if you are living with mental health problems, and going through a down period.
Being alone at Christmas, dealing with complex family ties, managing on a tight budget or simply taking on too much can all have an impact on mental health. Every year Oxfordshire Mind, one of the 180 local Mind associations, gives people support at Christmas through community projects throughout the county, giving them a chance to talk about their concerns .
A Christmas workshop at one project revealed that most people’s concerns were emotional, rather than practical or financial, and a common complaint was feeling taken for granted by family and being pressured into spending Christmas in a way they knew they wouldn’t enjoy.
Single women in particular felt pressured by married siblings to ‘look after the parents’, and other people shared concerns over the stress of spending time with the in-laws.
Support groups then discuss how to plan coping strategies. Even if it is too late to make changes this year, they can look to the year ahead for what can be done differently next Christmas.
How would you like to spend Christmas? How can you make this happen and avoid any guilt or resentment? The groups discussed assertiveness skills for dealing with families, identifying a family member who is most approachable and discussing possible changes and alternative plans with them.
For those who do not feel able to assert their wishes about plans for Christmas, for example telling the family they’d rather go away with friends or spend Christmas day quietly at home, suggestions included planning a special treat for the new year. Perhaps a trip to the January sales, a weekend break or a special meal out – give yourself something to look forward to and remind yourself that you deserve to do things that you enjoy.
Christmas and New Year can be stressful times, but they are a great time to reassess ourselves, our hopes and fears, and make manageable, positive changes for the future.
Amy Wackett, Oxfordshire Mind
Find out about services at your nearest local Mind association
Commenting is now closed.