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Looking After Your Mental Health over Christmas (2020 Edition)

I've not blogged a lot this year for obvious reasons. The past months have taken their toll on my mental health, just as they have the rest of the world. But I thought it would be good to have a little post on trying to look after your mental health over the Christmas period.

Christmas 2020 is going to be strange. Efforts to making it as normal as possible are failing and it's important that you look after you. This year has had a harsh effect on everyone and letting go of the guilt surrounding any semblance of a normal Christmas is going to be difficult. So here's some tips and tricks for doing the best you can this holiday season.

  • Time for yourself. Chances are that you're going to feel overwhelmed this year. That's normal. Make some time for yourself, even if it's just going to bed for a couple of hours. There is nothing wrong with going and getting some rest. You, and your body, need it, especially if you're in the Northern hemisphere where we're in the depths of darkness.

  • Give gifts to yourself. Make sure you're stocked up with things that you enjoy; books, movies, music, hot chocolate. Whatever makes you happy, have some with you.

  • Sleep. Rest is important, especially this year. Don't be fooling yourself into thinking that you can force yourself through Christmas and rest once New Year rolls around. If you're tired, get yourself to bed.

  • If you're alone over Christmas, make sure to check in with family and friends. There's going to be a lot of people spending Christmas by themselves. You could meet up online, or in person if you're close by and it's safe to do so (don't put your health at risk, wash your hands, and wear a mask).

  • If you know someone who's alone over Christmas, check in on them. A phone call or a text message can do wonders in lifting a person's spirits. Christmas is a time when we traditionally get together and this year a lot of people are going to be feeling left out. Maybe drop off gifts or food if you have the resources to do so.

  • The same goes for elderly relatives and neighbours. Many may be left alone this year due to the circumstances. If you can, and if it's safe to do so, check in and see how they're doing. Just knowing that they're in someone's thoughts will help.

  • Of course, there are those who don't like Christmas and that's perfectly understandable. For many people, Christmas has become a marathon that begins in August and doesn't end until sometime in January. The exhaustion is real, especially this year where we've had to think of so many other things. If you're one of those people who doesn't do, or enjoy, Christmas, make sure to look out for yourself. Step away if you can, even if it's to get some fresh air for a few minutes. Don't compromise your own health and wellbeing by feeling forced to be a part of celebrations. If you suspect that someone has Covid, walk away and don't feel any guilt. You come first.

Most of all, try and find something to look forward to. This year has punished everyone and not everyone has made it out alive. If you are struggling this year, there are people you can talk to. This is a list of phone numbers for mental health charities around the world. Don't be afraid to call. People want to talk to you.

Rachael is bipolar and the author of You Are Not Broken: Tips and Tricks for Looking After Your Mental Health