After the madness and magic of Christmas and New Year are over, we slump into January with a hefty bag of blues on our backs. It’s something that happens every year, we wait for it and tolerate it until we can finally start to enjoy the year about mid March. The depression becomes our shadow until the spring nights start to appear. It’s only then we seem to be able to embrace the new year.
I mean I get it: the festivities are over, we’re all back at work, it’s dark and dreary outside, we’re all skint and payday can’t come quick enough, we’re now just fed up of the same shitty weather with the same shitty feeling that smacks us every year.
This time of year plays havoc on my mental health, but then so does spring due to family loss and exams, and the pressures of having that perfect summer body is sitting on the wall of the school playground for me thereafter.
But there’s this need to get our lives all figured out in January when the reality is things fall into place over time. You can’t completely change your life within a day so why add further stress to the mood you’re already feeling?
I don’t have the answer, I wish I did. Christmas is one of my most favourite times of the year and yet every year I feel a sense of dread as I see the end of year approach like a train into the station, with no idea how to control the meaningless darkness that takes over at the most random points of my day.
I cried when we put up the Christmas tree this year. The days before I was off college with anxiety and that feeling of dread and emptiness. I sat, eyes glazed like black ice, painting Christmas scenes for two days. I haven’t painted in almost four years, yet it was the only thing that took my mind off the searing pain in my chest.
I couldn’t bring myself to see my friends and yet wonder why I’m feeling lonely. That feeling of not belonging oozes into my life every year at Christmas.
Then my birthday comes four days later, the excitement and the wish to banish it from existence blends into one mess as I try make the most of a day I hate. Is it from not having many friends at school?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s the time scale I put on each year – will my mental health allow me to become another year older?
It’s grim. It’s torture. It’s not fair. I’ve been my biggest bully and worst critic for as long as I can remember.
So why isn’t it relief in January?
Because we’re taught about January Blues and to be sad it’s no longer the most wonderful time of the year. When honestly, this time of year is the hardest on so many of us. I know I’m not the only one to feel this dread and I know there’s people who struggle even more than I do – by a hell of a mile.
The pressures of Christmas and New Year have a negative affect on so many. We need to change that, below I’ve listed some points to remember this Christmas.
- You don’t need to drink or go out partying if you don’t want too.
- Only be around people who lift your mental health.
- Take time for you. If you need 10 minutes away from the guests, the party, the conversation, then take yourself away and calm yourself.
- Money isn’t everything. It’s the thought that counts, no one will thank you for taking one for the team and getting yourself into debt to please people with food or presents or days out.
- Keep your calming hobbies going – do you mediate in the morning? Keep it up. Do you paint? Keep the canvases close. Need an escape? Keep a book in your bag incase it’s all too much.
- You are your own priority.
- Talk to someone, don’t suffer in silence and worry you’ll ruin Christmas. I’d rather sob with the family and know they’re okay than have them sit miserable and too scared to speak up.
- PJ’s days are encouraged.
- Chocolate is also encouraged.
- Don’t give up your personal pleasures because you’re too busy sorting everyone else out, get that bubble bath and glass of wine sorted.
- Keep in touch with loved ones. Even if it’s a text every couple of days, don’t isolate yourself when you feel low.
- Go somewhere where there’s people. If you’re by yourself this Christmas, hit the local pub, hall or restaurant where others are also looking for company. Is there a club on? Go, meet people!
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND MIND. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, drained, upset or stressed. Listen and take time to calm yourself.
Much love x