Christmas Can Be A Difficult Time for Many
1 in 4 people (26%) agree that their mental health worsens over the Christmas period. A further 1 in 2 (54%) are worried about the mental health of someone they know over the holidays.
For most, Christmas is a time of celebration: eating, drinking, spending time with family and friends and enjoying a well-deserved break. However, for those who struggle with a mental health condition, the season can be an especially difficult time.
The figures are even more alarming in men. In a study of 140 people, 48% of men agreed that they felt low over December, with 45% saying that they felt worse during the Christmas period compared to any other time of year.
With that being said, Dr Earim Chaudry, MD of men’s health platform Manual has highlighted the top five reasons men could be struggling with their mental health this Christmas, and ways you can combat getting the festive blues.
- Drinking too much
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it affects the brain’s levels of serotonin and dopamine – chemicals that make us happy. This means that, although you may feel an initial high whilst drinking, the next day you will be deficient in these same chemicals, which may lead to feeling anxious, down or depressed.
It is important to know your limits and drink in moderation over the Christmas period, especially if you are prone to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Try downsizing your drinks, and avoiding binge-drinking. Also, don’t drink on an empty stomach. A large meal can help to slow down the absorption of alcohol, helping you stay in control.
- Controlling your finances
Many people fall into debt around Christmas time due to the pressure of buying expensive gifts for friends and loved ones. A recent study found that a quarter of people will struggle to afford Christmas this year, with just under half (45%) saying they could comfortably afford it.
However, getting into debt can lead to conditions such as depression or anxiety as people feel unable to manage their money or feel like their finances are out of control.
It is important to be honest and open both with yourself and your loved ones during Christmas. Set yourself a budget and remain inside it – a thoughtful gift doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
- Feeling lonely
Loneliness is one of the biggest contributors to depression over Christmas, especially for the older generations during the pandemic. Not being able to see friends and family, or simply feeling isolated can all contribute to loneliness.
If you’re struggling this Christmas, reach out to a friend or family member and explain that you could use some support. Try getting out of your home if possible, going for walks, chatting to neighbours or even volunteering can all help.
- Social burnout
Society tells us that Christmas is a time of joy, laughter and celebration. However, for people who struggle with depression, these types of pressures and constant reminders that you should be happy can make you feel even worse.
If you’re struggling with socialising this Christmas, remember that you don’t need to do anything that will jeopardise your mental health. Whilst it’s important not to isolate yourself or become reclusive, don’t feel pressured into seeing everyone, and simply explain that you just need some time alone to recharge. Always prioritise yourself and your mental health first.
- Coping with bereavement
One of the hardest parts of Christmas for many is accepting that a loved one is no longer with them. Bereavement can leave many people feeling depressed over Christmas, especially as you reflect on old memories of when that person was still around.
Make sure you communicate with friends and family about how you are feeling, rather than sweeping your feelings under the carpet. If your grief is still fresh or overwhelming, take the year off. If anyone asks, tell them you needed some time for yourself this year and hope to be back into the festivities next year.
And if you know someone who is grieving this Christmas, give them a call or invite them round for some food. Let them know that you understand that it may be a hard time for them because it’s Christmas and that you are there for them if they need you.