How to take care of your psychological well-being during Christmas?

Christmas is a festive season that most of the people expect to have many social gatherings, more spending on shopping, as well as warm family gatherings.  However, it may not be the case for some people with social anxiety, depression, or other kinds of mental health issues.  In fact, many people are deprived of social or family support.  Some people may be facing conflictual relationships in their families.  Some other people may have intense social anxiety that being invited to many Christmas parties is anxiety-provoking and very stressful for them.  For those who are unemployed due to the pandemic, seeing others happily engaging in Christmas shopping and gift exchange may be stressful and intimidating.  They may feel shameful about their current financial condition.  For those with depression, seeing their family members or friends posting photos of going to warm Christmas gatherings or appreciating delicious festive food may be an exacerbation of their depressive mood.  For the ones with bipolar disorders, Christmas may be a time that may trigger their buying impulse and other impulsive behaviors in a manic episode.

No matter what psychological state you are in during this Christmas, it is of paramount important to take care of your well-being.  We need to learn to manage our expectation for our Christmas.  With the convenience of internet, it is easy for us to see others celebrating Christmas in a seemingly ideal way.  However, please be reassured that what others are posting in the social media is just one side of their lives and this does not reflect the whole picture of their well-being.  We have to learn not to compare ourselves with others and not to expect ourselves engaging in an ideal celebration of Christmas.  For those who are currently going through hardships or mental health issues, it is important for them to accept that going through Christmas in solitude may also be an option for them.  It is not necessary for everyone to have lots of social and family gatherings in Christmas.  For those who are more comfortable to be in solitude in this festive season, it is also important for them to have contact with their own close social network, such as close friends or relatives.  If possible, choosing to meet some very close family members or friends in one-on-one manner may also be beneficial for ones to obtain some social support in Christmas.  For someone who do not have a good social support systems, it is important for them to know where to obtain psychological help, such as some mental health hotlines.

For all of us, we need to be mindful of taking good care of ourselves during Christmas.  We need to be conscious of our booking of social and family gatherings.  It is important for us not to overbook our schedule and overspend on shopping.  For those with habit of using some kinds of substance or alcohol, it is also important for them to control their intake and stay away from temptations.  During the holiday, it is better if we could stay on our routine more, such as sleeping and waking up in our usual scheduled time (of course, it is acceptable to stay awake late due to some Christmas parties in some days).  It is also beneficial if we could still maintain our exercise schedule and normal eating habit.  If you practice mindfulness meditation regularly, it is important not to skip the practice during the holiday.

Christmas is a time for all of us to count our blessings and enjoy our precious present moment during the holiday. It is beyond dispute that Christmas is a festive season for everyone to enjoy. No matter what we are going through currently, we could still enjoy our own way of celebrating Christmas and stay well psychologically. May we wish everyone a peaceful and blessed Christmas holiday!

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