Director of Teaching School and Partnerships, Lisa Fathers, offers some top tips for managing wellbeing during the festive period
Christmas can often be an exciting time of year, but everyone feels different throughout the festive period.
For many individuals it can be a difficult time, whether that’s struggling with finances to afford the basics, feeling lonely or grieving for loved ones who are no longer around. Others feel overwhelmed with having to fit everything in or changes to daily routines. Many of us stay up late trying to do online shopping or feel under pressure to go to social events, whilst cramming in work. Teachers have an especially hectic time focusing on extra events and activities eg ‘the Christmas play’ and other festive events until the end of term.
It’s not always easy to admit it if you’re struggling at this time of year, often we have outbreaks of cold and flu as well meaning that people are functioning under their usual work rate.
Christmas is positioned as a fun and celebrated time, and it is enjoyed by many of us, especially young children! Trying to find a balance to manage your own self-care at this busy time of year and taking time to check in on others is really important.
Here are my top tips for helping to stay mentally healthy throughout the festive season:
If you are struggling, talk about your feelings
Don’t be hard on yourself for feeling the way you do and don’t feel guilty for not wanting to do things. Communicating how you feel to others will help them understand you and your actions. By talking, you may find out you’re not the only one feeling the way you do, and you can share your experiences.
Ask for help
Don’t struggle in silence as it’ll only make you feel worse. Asking for help from someone close can help you. If you don’t want to talk to someone you
know, there are many organisations who can help and offer advice, for example the Samaritans.
Get some proper sleep
If you don’t get rest, your body cannot re-charge. Staying up later can disrupt our normal routines, having a negative effect on mental health.
Make time to stay active
Keeping active, even in the depths of winter when it’s harder to make yourself exercise outside has a positive effect on wellbeing. If you can’t bear to go for a run in the dark or wet weather, even dancing around the house to your favourite song can have a beneficial effect on your mood.
Set your own boundaries
Planning ahead and making sure you have down time is really important to make sure you can have a rest and enjoy the things you have already committed to. Don’t try to cram everything in and have some quiet time planned. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from digital devices. Try and leave school early so you can get on top of some ‘home jobs’.
Do a good deed
Just being kind to someone can not only make a difference to them, but it can also have a great impact on your own wellbeing. Volunteering for a charity or cause you car
e about or helping someone who may be less fortunate than you, is a great way to experience this. Whether it’s paying someone a compliment, listening to someone, or helping them with a job, being kind contributes to happiness all round.
It’s tempting to over-indulge and treat ourselves at Christmas so it’s important to know your own body. Try to maintain a healthy and varied diet with sugar in moderation as too much sugar can have a destabilising effect on mood, with energy surges and slumps as a result.
As a depressive, alcohol can make you feel low or irritable. Too much of it, like caffeine, can also have an impact on the quality of your sleep. Again, understand your own body and know your limits.
Stay connected and keep in touch with people
Making use of support systems such as friends and family is so important. It’s easy to get distracted with Christmas preparations but reaching out to those who care for you is key to keeping you connected and to enjoy valuable relationships. Often those around you can help you take a step back and approach any difficulties you’re experiencing with a fresh perspective. While social media is a great way to stay connected, don’t compare your own experiences with everyone else. We’re all individuals and many people just highlight the ‘good bits’ online.
Do things you enjoy and those that you’re good at
At such a busy time of year, it’s easy to stop doing the things we love to fit in everything else. Keeping up hobbies or taking 20 minutes to lose yourself in what you enjoy can help to manage stress.
From all of us at The Alliance for Learning Teaching School, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy 2020!