With many of us facing Christmas under restrictive measures, it’s vital that we’re taking steps to look after our own mental health, as well as keeping an eye out for distant loved ones.
Whilst such measures are necessary to tackle the pandemic, frequent lockdowns and localised restrictions can be challenging for all of us in different ways, and especially those with mental health problems, the lonely, and those with a lack of support system.
Whether you’re spending Christmas alone, or you’ve had your festive plans scrapped due to the government’s tighter rules and introduction of the new tier 4, there are plenty of simple mood-boosting things you can do to spark happiness over the festive period.
Take a look at them below…
1. Have a digital detox
Having a break from the digital world – whether it’s social media or the news — is a great way to focus on real-life situations without distractions. Some of the benefits of unplugging include being more content with your life, increased levels of productivity, improved sleep and better physical health, too.
The news can, at times, be incredibly anxiety-inducing, so a little time offline is a great way to recharge. While technology has a plethora of benefits, spending some time away from the screen will leave you more in touch with the world around you.
2. Check in with your loved ones
With Christmas bubbles now limited to just 25th December in tiers 1-3, and scrapped in tier 4, many of us will unfortunately be spending the festive season alone, or with less family members than planned. A great way to ease the pangs of loneliness is to call distant friends and family. We might be tired of video calls by now, but a little virtual interaction can help to brighten our spirits during these dark days.
If you feel you have no one to call, there are plenty of support organisations on hand to help. Take a look at them below:
- The Silver Line is a confidential, free helpline for older people across the UK that offers them the chance to talk to someone.
- Age UK offers help to the elderly who need advice and support.
- The Samaritans runs a 24/7 helpline for anyone who wants someone to listen.
- If you’re young and need help, Runaway Helpline provides expert advice for those in need.
3. Declutter your home
According to previous research conducted by Smart Storage, decluttering can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and boost levels of creativity, too. If you’re feeling a little low, why not have a clear out of cupboards, drawers and boxes? As well as giving you a mood lift, it will help to distract you from all that’s going on around — while also making your home cleaner, too.
4. Do something for someone else
Doing something kind for someone else with no expectation of receiving anything in return can help you feel better, lifting your mood instantly.
With restrictions making it hard to stay positive, why not surprise a neighbour, friend or stranger with a random act of kindness. Whether it’s picking up someone’s food shopping, getting their medication or helping with donations, we’re certain any help will be greatly appreciated.
Need some ideas? Take a look at the 12 acts of kindness to do throughout Christmas to spread some positivity.
5. Head outside
Nature performs some major miracles for us. In fact, research conducted by the University of Regina found that just five minutes outdoors can quickly improve our mood, increasing positive emotions.
‘A general life hack – especially on winter days – is to make sure you keep getting outside to experience sunlight during the day, and this includes Christmas Day, because it’s so beneficial for restful sleep,’ says Hafiz Shariff, founder and CEO of hand-made mattress company Owl and Lark.
In tier 4 areas, people can exercise outdoors or visit public outdoor places, such as parks, the countryside accessible to the public, public gardens or outdoor sports facilities. You can also continue to do unlimited exercise alone, or in a public outdoor place with your household, support bubble, or one other person. See gov.uk for further guidance.
6. Do something you love
Doing the things you love will spark joy in these uncertain times. Why not lose yourself in a mood-boosting book, get creative with some crafts (see a guide here on how to make a wreath or how to make a picture frame card display), or try out a new recipe? It’s never been more important to put your mental health first without being weighed down by guilt.
The NHS website explains that doing things you enjoy is good for your emotional wellbeing: ‘Simple activities like watching sports, having a soak in the bath or meeting up with friends [virtually] can all improve your day.’
7. Get enough sleep
Are you getting enough sleep? These unprecedented times can cause sleepless nights for many, whether you usually suffer from anxiety or not. If you’re feeling anxious or low, make sure you’re giving yourself enough shut-eye at night (adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, according to the Sleep Foundation).
UK Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist, Nick Davis, previously told us: ‘Wind down before bed with no TV, electrical devices or stimulation for at least an hour prior to sleeping. Your devices produce electromagnetic radiation which, coupled with the adrenal stimulation you get from watching the news, and reading the tweets and Facebook posts from your phones, overstimulates your brain.’
If you are feeling anxious and need professional support, you can contact the charity Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm).
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