The one where Boris cancelled Christmas - Supporting your mental health during the COVID-19 festive period
Supporting your Mental Health during COVID-19.
Christmas is upon us and after a year of lockdowns, partial lockdowns and new tier systems everyone was delighted to hear that for five days (and five days only ladies and gentleman) the draconian measures would be lifted, and we would be free to spend the festive period with our nearest and dearest, the end…..Ah if only that was how it stayed!!
Unfortunately, the week commencing 14th December saw a sharp rise in numbers with a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 soaring through parts of the country including London and the South East.
As a result, we saw places go from Tier 2 on Monday to Tier 3 on Wednesday and straight into the new Tier 4 on Saturday (why is Craig David coming to mind?!) however, the worst news of all came on 19th December when Boris delivered the fatal blow that the five days of freedom would be reduced to only one with those in tier 4 being banned from travelling or being able to see another household at all.
This meant carefully laid plans were thrown out the window and dreams of seeing loved ones were dashed leaving many unsure how their Christmas would be spent resulting in the important question, “how is this going to impact on people’s mental health?”.
Mental health and Christmas
Christmas can often feel like a lonely time for some but after nearly a year of social isolation with many now isolated over Christmas too concerns about loneliness, mental health and general wellbeing are at an all-time high.
Statistics looking into mental health during the festive period from 2019 showed:
- 51% of woman and 35% of men said that they felt stressed over the Christmas period
- 35% of woman and 23% of men said that they felt anxious over the Christmas period
- 27% of woman and 25% of men said that they felt depressed over the Christmas period
- Anxiety and loneliness were found to be the most prevalent amongst the 25-34 age group at 31%-40%
- 47% of those out of work said they felt particularly depressed and stressed over the Christmas period (Yougov, 2019).
With the sharp increase in unemployment this year because of job loses due to the pandemic one can only imagine how high these figures will be for 2020…….
How to look after your mental health and wellbeing during this COVID-19 Christmas
Keeping in touch with your feelings and being aware of any possible triggers can go a long way to keeping those Christmas blues at bay, however, below is a list of a few extra things that can help you or a loved one that little bit further;
- Staying connected. Whilst in person contact for many isn’t allowed now is the time to make use of phone calls, zoom chats, Facebook calls, skype….the list is endless. Whether it’s a one-to-one chat for some added support or a group video link watching each other open up the presents having that personal contact will help you feel less isolated from your loved ones. If you are not a fan of the video calls or speaking on the phone, then good old text messages can still help to increase those feelings of connectivity. Additionally, as all of us will be in the same boat why not contact those people who you have not seen in years but think of often. Catching up with an old friend or loved one can often be the perfect lift and trip down memory lane.
- Build a routine. This may sound like a strange one for over the holidays but having a routine, even if it is just a matter of getting up at the same time and going to bed at the same time, can help maintain a sense of purpose whilst adding some structure to your life. Having a routine will also help the readjustment into non-Covid life that bit less painful.
- Enjoy the outside. Ok, it cold this time of year but getting outside and having a brisk winter can really help to blow those cobwebs away. Even a 15-minute walk around the block can help to clear the mind and numb those racing thoughts and worries….it may also help to fight off the craving for that extra mince pie.
- Reduce your intake of the news. Yes, we need to stay informed but there is such a thing as being overexposed to the news. With daily doses of negative stories flooding the TV or radio, often over sensationalised by the media outlets, it can be hard for the most positive person to remain feeling upbeat and angst-free. Repeated overexposure to negative news can often take us away from the small blessings we have in our immediate environment often leaving us feeling more anxious and fearful than what we should. Take home message: Limit your news intake to one bulletin a day then focus your attention on you and your loved ones.
- Controlling the excess. I get it! Its Christmas so there’s booze and food, who doesn’t like that, right?! The problem is when it gets to a point that it’s actually making us feel worse, not better. It may be a good idea to head straight for the bottle due to boredom during the evening, but all those anxieties and worries will be back with a vengeance the next day waiting for you. So, limit that mulled wine, sherry or gin and last sweet mince pie as your mental health will really thank you for it.
- Creating healthy boundaries. Whilst Christmas is meant to be a time of joy and cheer that is not always the case for those trapped in unhealthy household dynamics. If you cannot get out to visit friends or close ones this year to escape any toxicity, then try and create healthy boundaries so you do not get pulled into any emotional or confrontational situations. Keeping calm and walking away from friction can often help to diffuse heightened situations and most importantly always remember to put your safety first.
If you feel that you may need some additional support throughout the Christmas period, please find a list below of some useful helplines and websites that offer support and a listening ear as remember, you are not alone! Supporting your mental health during the COVID-19 Pandemic,
National Domestic Abuse Helpline –
0808 2000 247. www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
Non-emergency medical help and advice for people in England – 111 –
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – 0800 58 58 58 – https://www.thecalmzone.net/
NSPCC – 0808 800 5000
Childline – 0800 1111
Samaritans – 116 123
Shout – Text 85258
Mind – 0300 123 3393
No Panic – 0300 7729844
Drink line – 0300 123 1110
Talk to Frank – 0300 123 6600
National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
Shelter – 0808 800 4444
National Rape Crisis Helpline – 0808 802 9999
Age UK – 0800 055 6112
We hope that you found this article useful. If you feel you or a loved one may be experiencing some of the issues discussed or are exhibiting behaviour that you may find worrying, then please get in touch with My Family Psychologist.
We have support tailor-made for adults, teenagers, children, families, and couples so do not hesitate to get in touch to see how we can support you.
Merry Christmas and stay safe!! Xxx