Mental health

Feeling anxious about this upcoming festive season. Psychotherapist Ruairí Stewart, also known as the Happy Whole Coach, offers six strategies to help cope with the Christmas blues


1. Spend within your means

The pandemic has not been financially kind to many of us, meaning pressures around spending money could feel even more distressing this year. If this is the case for you, communicate your fears to those around you and express that although you would buy them the world if you could, this year will have to be toned down. Try to own your experience and alleviate any feelings of shame; you never know, someone unexpected might be feeling the same. 

2. Plan ahead

This could include doing your shopping sooner than usual or ordering online ahead of time to allow for any delivery hiccups. Leaving things to the last minute will cause you unnecessary stress, so do your future self a favour and get organised early.

3. Ask for help

If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask a friend or loved one to help with some of your responsibilities. You don’t have to take everything on yourself - it’s important to feel supported but you will have to ask for this support in order to receive it. There is no shame in asking for help - it’s actually a sign of strength.

4. Let go of any unrealistic expectations 

Perfection is a myth. We’ve all seen Miracle on 34th Street and had notions that we might be able to recreate that magic in our own lives, but the time comes for realism. Focus on reconnecting with those you hold dearest, no matter what that looks like this year. You don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations of how the season should be enjoyed - do it your way.

5. Take time for you

Feel what you need to feel. There are so many different reasons you could be having a tough time in December. It’s the end of a challenging and confusing year, so you might be in need of some self-care and alone time, rather than spending it on or with others. Communicate how you feel to others and let them know that the best thing they can do for you right now is provide you with some breathing space.

6. Connect with others to overcome isolation

Stay connected no matter where you are using apps like FaceTime, Zoom or Skype. This is for your benefit as much as it others, so reach out to those you know will be finding Christmas difficult or spending this time on their own. You could even volunteer with organisations to help those most in need. Shaking things up and doing Christmas a little differently can bring feelings of joy and contentment. 

The Brain Bio Centre at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition combines nutrition and health science to optimise brain health. Click here to find out more about how our registered nutritional therapists can help you.