OPINION: Eight mental health self-care tips for the Christmas period in Tipperary

Cathal O'Reilly writing in this week's Nationalist

Cathal O'Reilly


Cathal O'Reilly



Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

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1. Make yourself a priority

There will be many opportunities this Christmas to indulge and I say “yay” to that. However, friends and family time can be overwhelming for many people. I would say put yourself first – if that means some alone time for an hour or so just to relax and watch some Netflix or scroll through your phone in bed, then do what you need to do to unwind. Then, you will find you will be better equipped to deal with any overwhelming anxiety that may be faced in the Christmas environment.

2. Balance substance use

As much as Christmas is an excuse to over-indulge in things we don’t normally indulge in, I would say that from a mental health standpoint, overuse of substances such as alcohol could add fuel to the fire. Christmas can be a stressful time for some and over-indulging in alcohol may slow down your processing of the mind and body and therefore contribute to further anxiety. In saying that, many of us enjoy a drink and I am not asking you not to enjoy yourself. Just a little more awareness of the amount you consume may help you with the Christmas anxiety in general. Balance is key.

3. Enjoy yourself

As simple as it sounds, in the middle of Christmas, between stressing about the turkey or Santa, sometimes we forget to actually enjoy ourselves. I find staying present and practising gratitude in the present moment helps with this. That means taking a breather. You’ve done enough. Realise you are trying your utmost best this year for what it has thrown at us and take time to enjoy yourself. We have all been through enough this year and that includes you too.

4. Have a bath

Get out the Epsom salts. This goes for the lads too. Throw on the hot water, get your favourite playlist going and soak into the bath, letting your worries dissipate into the abyss! It doesn’t cost much for Epsom salts and they are great for relaxing the muscles. Otherwise, the Radox muscle relax bubble bath works great also. The main aim here is that you are scheduling time for yourself and taking action in doing so. Many people have this idea of a bath as being fluffy dressings gowns and candles. A bath can be a five minute muscle soak while playing your favourite song (or not) whilst also treating your body to some much needed downtime.

5. Know when to say NO

People like to delegate jobs at Christmas. I am all for helping out around the house but don’t let others take advantage of your kindness either. I mean Christmas – what a perfect time to take advantage of someone’s giving and kind nature. Don’t fall into that trap. Equal portions of job chores and helping please! Many people in relationships take advantage of their significant others willingness to please the family. Learn that sometimes it is ok to say no too.

6. Be yourself – Completely

Many of us put on a front when the family are around. Everything is going great. The job is great. The family are great. Everything is just…great! That is keeping up appearances and yes whilst it has to be done to an extent, not to the point where you become robotic and you are not expressing and being yourself fully. If you are suppressing your voice around those closest to you, then that can become an issue where you lose your voice. I myself know that it can be difficult however you have to stop apologising to those around you for the person that you are! Maybe a glass of wine would help you relax into the evening also. Alcohol does have its place for some people who can enjoy a drink.

7. Don’t be afraid to receive

Many people have been hurt in the past to the point of not being able to trust others around them and maybe those friends you have lost contact with over the years. When those happy New Year and Christmas messages come through, don’t be afraid to respond and receive the kind message. It may not even be that you respond to that person because of a past issue, however feel the feeling of receiving. Christmas is a time of giving but also a time of receiving.

8. Exercise

It’s the old one that many of us don’t want to see however there will be plenty of time over the Christmas to get out for a stroll pending that we get some nice dry days. There are plenty of beautiful spots around Tipperary. Namely, the Swiss Cottage in Cahir has some lovely walks and the Clonmel greenway also a lovely place to get some fresh air and clear the cobwebs. God knows after the amount of food and drink consumed, we will need to push ourselves to get out and get some fresh air also.