At what can be an intense time of year it’s important to pause for a moment and assess how to ensure good mental health over the festive period. 

Caveat: I am by no means a mental health expert, however by sharing what works for me hopefully you’ll start to think about what works well for you too. 

1. Start by writing out all the things you need to have in place to ensure good mental health. It may take a bit of digging to assess what these are if you’re not currently consciously aware of them. So for me my list will look something like:

– yoga
– drawing
– sense of achievement
– being with friends and family 
– meditation
– CBT techniques for managing unwanted thoughts
– running 
– listening to the Blindboy podcast(highly recommended, comes with colourful language warning) 

2. The next step is to actually schedule these things into your diary. At a busy time like Christmas it’s easy to get swept up in all the ‘do-ing’ and neglect ourselves as a result.
Think of the oxygen mask analogy – you can’t help anyone with their mask unless yours is sorted first.
It may be useful to have your list taped on the inside of your wardrobe door, scribbled on a note in your phone or some other prominent place to serve as a reminder to you. 

3. Future pace – have a think about what personal triggers may emerge over the festive period and plan a strategy for dealing with these – for example if you know your aunt is likely to wind you up (because she always does) then think about limiting your time in her company, writing out some stock responses to her insistent questions or simply ensuring the two of you are never alone together for longer than five minutes. 

Just a little bit of pre planning can make all the difference.