"It's the most wonderful time of the year..."
Because after all, we're all "Simply having a wonderful Christmas time", right? Hmmm....maybe not.
Some people will have a truly lovely Christmas. But for many others, Christmas can be a really tricky time for so many reasons.
For some of us, it will be our first Christmas without a loved one who has sadly passed away during the year - a very poignant time. Others may be experiencing a first in other ways - maybe the end of a relationship, or the first one where their children have left home.
There is often a tremendous build-up to Christmas and heightened expectations in creating the perfect day. This can put lots of pressure on people in terms of time and money, many people will go into debt to ensure they can create the Christmas they feel is needed.
Even if we aren't grieving a loved one, and manage our money okay, Christmas can be tricky for other reasons too. We're all out of our normal routine, often over-tired and somewhat emotional (and I don't just mean the children :) ) and then spend lots of time, with family members that we don't generally spend much time with - and perhaps don't even get on that well with - whilst eating and drinking a lot more than usual. And all the while, trying to ensure that The Day runs smoothly and we all have a perfect Family Christmas.
I think it's really important to state that we really don't have to do Christmas like that. And, especially if we are struggling with our own mental health and well-being, it's really okay to look after ourselves. It's fine to leave an event early, or take some time out. We don't need to be pressurised into things that we aren't comfortable with - whether that's having yet another drink, eating more or spending too much. Instead we can give others the gift of time, or simpler, personal gifts. We may well find that if we do that, others will be relieved that they can relax a bit more too. And even if they don't , by doing this we are taking better care of ourselves, which will hopefully help us to start the new year in a more positive frame of mind.
It might be a good idea to create some 'plan' of how you are going to take care of yourself over the festive season. And don't forget, there will still be some agencies offering support throughout this time.
Hoping you can be kind to yourself and have a peaceful Christmas.