Monday, 21 December 2015
How I’m Coping with Christmas
Today I’m writing a little about the holiday sadness that can accompany Christmas.
I touched on this in my media round-up on Sunday, but I want to share with you what I’ll be doing over the festive period to help my own mental health and try to prevent a breakdown like last year.
I’m susceptible to bad mental health during Christmas. The period combines a number of my triggers (lack of alone time, lack of stimulation, pressure to be happy, extreme stress, family arguments) in close proximity and, like last year, it can result in the return of feelings of extreme darkness.
I really contemplated what way to take my annual leave this year as a result. Should I take the festive period off or go to work? Will taking my holidays just lead to more free time and hence more time to feel miserable?
After last Christmas, I wasn’t sure which was the best way to deal with my mental health.
In the end I decided to take the annual leave I'd built up over the past few months. But this year I am preparing for the worst. One of my biggest coping mechanisms for dealing with my depression and anxiety is forward planning. So as I prepare to head home for the holidays, here’s what I’m packing and using to help my mental health.
- My Winter Checklist – Small but achievable goals made up my Winter to-do list this year. I'm taking the list home for Christmas to complete some of my tasks like baking, watching TheNightmare Before Christmas and Frozen, and putting together my Christmas Eve box.
- My *Top Secret Until Next Week* Project – To keep me focused I love having something to work at, even on my days off. So, I'm taking home notebooks and sheets to continue planning my project for the New Year.
- Reading books – Two books are already in my suitcase ready for the trip home, but as well as that I've been super prepared and ordered two new books on the Book Depository to be delivered home just before I arrive.
- Taking mental health books home too – A big thing I missed last Christmas was having my self-help, CBT and other mental health related books around me when depression hit. This year I’m packing Dr David Burns, and also hoping I won't have to use him.
- Scrapbooking – I want to create my Amsterdam travel scrapbook over the holidays and catch up on recording the past 3 months of my life. Staying creative and focused have really helped me to deal with free time and to relax as well.
- Colouring Books & markers – I’m a colouring book addict. On my day off last Tuesday I must have coloured in at least 12 different pages of my colouring book. I felt calm and relaxed all day.
- Getting out of the house - No one should stayed cooped up at Christmas. Use the festive period to catch up with friends, go for walks and, once we're past St Stephen's/Boxing Day, hit the shops. It's okay to have to get away from your family every now and again too.
- My Netflix subscription - I didn't have Netflix last Christmas. I'm not saying having it would have helped in any way, but I like the comfort of knowing this year that I have my list of programmes to watch if all else fails.
Having a plan in place eases some of my worries about Christmas. I'm hoping that being prepared, and having productive things to do, will prevent me from feeling like I'm spiraling into doom and despair.
It's not a guaranteed success.
But little steps are better than taking no action when it comes to mental health.
For those of you who are struggling this Christmas, there is help out there.
Samaritans is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone struggling to cope. For confidential, non-judgemental support please call 116 123 in the Republic of Ireland or visit www.samaritans.ie for details of the nearest branch.
G.P. or health centre. Visit the HSE.ie online service finder. If it’s late in the evening, night time or the weekend, contact a G.P. Out of Hours Service.
Emergency Department of your nearest general hospital. Hospitals are listed on the HSE.ie online service finder. You can also contact the emergency services by calling 999 or 112 if you or someone else has harmed themselves or taken an overdose.
Visit yourmentalhealth.ie for a full list of services around the country.
(Services listed operate in the Republic of Ireland)