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Christmas can be a difficult time for social and health care workers
At Canopi, we understand that Christmas can be a difficult time for social and health care workers. Some may be returning to a more ‘typical’ style of Christmas this year without social restrictions, whilst others may be separated from their family, feeling increased stress due to holiday-related staff shortage, caring for a loved one or dealing with a pre-existing health condition.
Studies have examined the relationship between Christmas and mental health, but how does it affect us?
- Emotionally: Christmas can provoke memories which are unpleasant, and generally is a time where emotions can ‘run high’ due to heightened expectations.
- Financially: Buying gifts, food and drinks for the season can be expensive, placing undue financial pressure on you.
- Socially: There may be an expectation to engage with friends, family, and colleagues during this time, which can be overwhelming. Alternatively, you may feel an increased sense of loneliness this Christmas and a ‘fear of missing out’.
- Lifestyle habits: Your sleep patterns may be affected, or you may increase your level of alcohol consumption during this season. It’s important to remember that certain behaviours can make anxiety and low mood even worse, so check in with yourself if you or someone else notices a change.
Know the signs; get help
Due to a combination of these factors, you may feel a heightened level of anxiety or experience low mood during the holiday season and research suggests this is not unusual (Sansone and Sansone 2011).
The signs of anxiety or low mood often overlap and it’s important to recognise the signs. This could be:
- Social withdrawal or a loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
- Physical symptoms of anxiety such as trembling, palpitations or sweating
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Feeling a sense of panic or hypervigilance.
It may feel impossible to ‘get away’ from the Christmas season, but there are several things you can do to check in with yourself and ease associated feelings of low mood or anxiety.
1.) Say no to some Christmas events
It’s important to make time for yourself at any point during the year. Try not to overload yourself with negative situations or too many events.
2.) Practise meditation
Meditation can help us to transform or let go of negative thoughts and asks us to focus on the present moment, rather than worrying about other people, scenarios, and pressures in our past or future.
3.) Maintain a good level of physical activity
Going outdoors can boost our mood, as well as the endorphins that physical activity provides.
4.) Monitor alcohol consumption
It may be necessary for some to avoid alcohol altogether if you struggle with substance misuse or are taking anti-depressant medication.
5.) Get plenty of sleep
Christmas can be physically and emotionally demanding, so it’s important to recharge your batteries.
6.) Know that you are not alone
It’s common for many individuals to feel a heightened sense of anxiety or low mood at Christmas. You may want to consider sharing your feelings with friends, family, or someone else.
If you suspect that your low mood or anxiety has been going on for a while, you may want to speak to a Canopi professional using the online form.
Need support urgently?
- If you require urgent support, please click here to see a list of organisations that can help.