North Wales psychiatrist shares top tips on caring for mental health over Christmas lockdown
A North Wales psychiatrist has shared her tips on how to look after mental health during this year’s Christmas under lockdown.
Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Alys Cole-King says it is ‘vital’ people find other ways to feel connected with loved ones although not being there in person.
Since lockdown came into effect over the weekend, many people will be having to change their plans for the festive celebrations this week.
Dr Cole-King said: “If you are worried about someone spending the day on their own, perhaps suggest that you agree to do certain things at a set time, such as having a morning cuppa, an afternoon mince pie or eat your meals at a scheduled time.
“You could also watch the same DVDs or TV programmes and keep in regular touch via video call or phone. You still have time to try to post a treat to them – even if it doesn’t arrive in time for Christmas day itself, they will know it’s on the way.
“You can also do a crossword over the phone or perhaps have a quiz. If they can ‘join’ you via video call, put your phone or tablet at the end of the table where they would have sat so the missing person feels involved.”
She suggests people who are ‘really’ struggling with the new restrictions to reach out for support or consider making a ‘Safety Plan’ – the mental health equivalent of putting on a car seat belt.
The ten tips she further provides are as follows:
- Christmas is not just one day – people should not put too much pressure on themselves to have ‘the perfect day’ as many will be working. Try to spread the fun.
- Try something new – something like eating at a different time of day or having a different meal. Avoiding Christmas traditions may result in less comparisons.
- Get outside – even if it is freezing or raining, wrap up warm and get some fresh air. Even just walking briskly for 10 minutes can have health benefits.
- It is okay to say ‘No’ – many people pressurise themselves to do things they may not want to do. The key is finding a balance without sacrificing health or wellbeing.
- Plan a treat for after Christmas – people should give themselves something to look forward to after Christmas. This could be a get-together with family, for example.
- Do not stress about presents – if money is tight why not give home-made vouchers for ‘kindnesses’ or do other people’s chores during 2021, and be inventive with the ideas.
- Make a Self-Care Box – it is something filled only with things that make people happy and feel calmer. The idea is to make the box in advance to have it for when needed.
- Nothing is perfect – there is bound to be at least one flare up over the holidays. People should not put too much pressure on themselves for everything to be perfect.
- Schedule ‘me’ time and self-care – finding ‘me’ time can be difficult at the best of times, let alone the holiday season. Plan ahead and identify ways to bolster wellbeing.
- Be Open – Christmas is often a stressful time for people, so being able to share concerns and worries with someone is a great way to know they have an outlet.
Dr Cole-King suggests a number of agencies to contact if people are feeling overwhelmed this Christmas, them being:
C.A.L.L. – the Mental Health Helpline for Wales who offer a 24/7 service of free emotional support and information/literature on mental health.
Text ‘help’ to 81066, visit the website or call 0800 132 737 for more.
Samaritans – they have a 24/7 free helpline free at 116 123 or email email@example.com.
Alternatively, they have a Welsh Language Line at 0808 1640123 open every day between 7pm-11pm.
Mind Cymru’s Infoline, for information on types of mental health problems, where to get help, medication, alternative treatments and advocacy is available on 0300 123 3393.
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