Traditional family Christmas is good for our mental health
Posted Thursday 18 December 2003
Mental health charity Mind today produced some surprising but good news about what the British think of Christmas. Despite the much-hyped notion that we dread the expense, the excess and the annual arrival of in-laws, the ideal Christmas for most (70 per cent) of us will be spent celebrating at home with relatives.
Although almost half of us (47 per cent) find Christmas stressful occasionally, 48 per cent of us don’t worry about Christmas at all and actively look forward to it.
Mind commissioned the questions as part of nfpSynergy's (*) Charity Awareness Monitor, an independent poll made up of a representative sample of 1000 adults living in mainland Britain.
However, not everyone chooses to celebrate with others at this time of the year. Almost 1 in 10 (9 per cent) would rather not celebrate Christmas at all but spend it quietly at home and 2 per cent of people usually spend it alone. Another 1 in 10 would rather ignore Christmas completely and get away somewhere sunny instead.
Speaking today Mind’s Chief Executive Richard Brook said:
"With one in four of us experiencing mental health problems at any one time, we were expecting that the stress of Christmas would be gloomy news. So we are delighted that today’s findings show that for most people Christmas is still a fun and enjoyable time of the year."
On a more serious note there are still a significant number of people who find Christmas stressful and/or who will spend the period alone. Mind believes that looking out for each other at this time of year can help make Christmas a better experience for everyone."
So, if you are feeling that the pressure of Christmas is getting to you, here are Mind’s stress busting tips:
- learn to relax. There’s no point running around like a headless turkey – take a Christmas time-out to do something unrelated to the festivities. Go for a walk or a swim and forget about it all for an hour or two. Exercise is proven to reduce stress.
- get better organised. Don’t take all the responsibility for Christmas on yourself. Get other members of the family to muck in and help with shopping, cooking and washing-up. Give yourself at least one afternoon in front of the box with your feet up.
- confide in someone. If your in-laws are getting to you or you’re feeling fraught, why not phone a friend and let off some steam
- don’t take it all too seriously. Laughter is known to provide short term stress relief. You can swap jokes with friends or hire out some of your favourite comedy classics and get grinning!
- eat and drink well. And we don’t just mean mince pies and sherry! Good food with plenty of fruit and vegetables can lift our mood significantly.
(*) nfpSynergy is a think tank dedicated to the voluntary sector. www.nfpsynergy.net
*** ENDS ***