Esther Dark
Posted by
Esther Dark

Ways to stay mentally healthy at Christmas

Esther Dark
Posted by
Esther Dark
19 Dec 2016

Whether it’s having some much needed me time, pausing to remember a loved one, or connecting with others, we asked you for your advice on how to stay mentally healthy at Christmas.

Behind the glitter and tinsel, the festive season can sometimes be a time of deep sadness, isolation and fear for the many people living with or affected by blood cancer.

You may be spending this Christmas alone in hospital, or you may be at home, but too exhausted to join in with the festivities and unable to tuck into your usual Christmas meal. Perhaps, you’re grieving a loved one or you may be consumed with worry, yet too scared to reach out, in fear that you’ll “ruin” Christmas. That’s why it’s so important at this time of the year to look after your mental health.

We asked you how you look after your emotional wellbeing at Christmas, and you have responded with some great tips and advice on how to stay mentally healthy over the festive season. We’ve collated just a few …

Be kind to yourself

Ahh you groan - another visit or meal out? Tis’ the season to be busy! Which is why carving some ‘me time’ out amongst the busyness to relax and engage in something just for you is really important. Whether that’s going for a walk, reading a new book or watching your favourite Christmas film - make sure you do something you truly love this Christmas, something that can help you switch off. Ruth Bright tells us she will “shut down and decorate and bake” and Donna Dunn’s top tip is “to be kind to ourselves and not expect too much from ourselves.”

Be honest

If you’re struggling this Christmas, that’s okay. It’s important to be honest with yourself and your loved ones, so they can support you. Carole Thompson says her family “support each other when we feel sad” and Elaine Marwood says this Christmas her “great family and friends… will see me through”.

Get connected

Coping with cancer – whether you’re living with blood cancer, caring for someone with cancer, or remembering a loved one - can be very lonely. So it’s important to reach out to others, or reconnect with friends and family at Christmas, even if it’s just a phone call or a Christmas card. “I am going to enjoy being with my family at Christmas and just hope that I have many more to come,” Helen Tait tells us and Lisa Peet says “spending time with family and friends is the best therapy.”

Keeping busy

Sometimes taking part in activities which keep our minds occupied and hands busy is the best thing we can do. To combat loneliness: inviting a relative for a coffee; joining in a community event or  support group; or finding a way to help others can help you get perspective and build your social network. Lisa Peet says, “Keeping busy is my top tip it stops my mind from wandering and dwelling on the negatives”.

Go at your own pace

Christmas can feel like a race against the clock. It’s important that you set the pace, which might mean slowing down. Sam Barnes says, “I go at my own pace... if I can't finish something I don't stress over it, it took me 2 days to put up Christmas decorations this year, didn't matter as it still looks lovely!”

Being grateful

Christmas can be a great opportunity to show appreciation to others. Whether it’s your brilliant healthcare team, your family, neighbours or the staff at your local supermarket - this Christmas, why don’t you take a moment to thank those who have made a difference to your year? Chloe Theresa shares, “The thing that helps me, and helped me throughout treatment, were random acts of kindness - both the ones we were on the receiving end of and the ones we carried out ourselves. Think of those who may be feeling lost, lonely and sad at Christmas and offer them kindness, it will help you feel better, no matter what you are going through”.

 

We hope that you find these tips helpful over the festive season. Please note that these are the personal opinions of the people who have contributed to this article, and this blog is not a substitute for medical advice.

Always speak to your healthcare team for help if you’re struggling. The Samaritans is open over the Christmas period, you can call them on 116 123. You can always contact our Support Line on 0808 2080 888 or please message us 

If you have any further tips or suggestions or would like to share your own experiences please feel free to leave a comment in the box below.