Let’s take care of our physical and mental health this Christmas in Cork
With Christmas today being accompanied with constant marketing messages, which sell us a vision of the perfect family holiday season, it’s easy to forget that Christmas can be a challenging time for many of us. Increased stress levels and over-indulgence can take its toll on both our mental and physical health over the festive period.
With many of our daily routines being interrupted and disrupted, the change in pace of our lives over Christmas can negatively impact on our health and well-being. In this article, we’ve put together a few handy Christmas mental health tips, that we feel anyone can use, to make this Christmas 2019 a more enjoyable and healthful experience.
Christmas mental health tips
Planning ahead can save time, money and stress
It goes without saying but leaving all of your Christmas preparations to the last minute can create additional stress. Planning ahead can save time, money and your mental health.
To organise your thoughts, to-do lists can be great for planning the jobs that need doing, the presents and groceries to buy. Getting thoughts out of our head and down on paper can really lift a weight from our minds. Lists can also prevent us from forgetting something (or someone). Well thought-out shopping lists can also make it easier to stick to a budget.
Get involved with the local community
The Christmas period offers us the ideal chance to engage with the people around us. What better excuse is there to talk to, visit and connect with other local people than the festive period? Communicating with others, face-to-face, is scientifically proven to be positive for mental health and well-being. Personal interaction produces the feel-good hormone, Oxytocin, which can benefit our heart, immune system and cognitive brain functions.
Get involved with family and friends
In Ireland, one third of us report that we have a close friend or family member that we think is lonely. What better Christmas or New Year resolution could there be than a promise to see our friends and family more often? Contact with loved ones and close friends can help to boost your health and well-being, and the well-being of others.
If you’re apart from family this Christmas, volunteering for a local charity or community organisation can provide similar human contact. Not only are you helping yourself when volunteering, you’re also helping to provide essential support and encouragement for others who are in need. Of course, interactions with local groups are not just for Christmas either, they can be sustained throughout the year.
Stay in touch
There’s nothing better than face-to-face communication, but when that’s not possible, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. If you can’t visit them in person, be sure to give them a call, send an email or connect with them on social media. Communication really is good for us! Christmas can be the ideal opportunity to send someone that you’ve lost regular contact with a card or a note.
Talking can also be one of the most effective ways to cope with a problem. If you’ve been carrying something troubling around in your head, if something is worrying you, whether it’s a family issue, work related or other feelings, just being listened to can help you to feel supported and less alone. It works both ways of course. If you open up, it may encourage others to open up too, allowing them to get something worrying off their mind.
Get involved with Christmas events in Cork
There are loads of great events on in Cork this Christmas 2019. A few highlights for this year’s festive season in Cork include:
- Glow festival – join the Cork Christmas celebration including Christmas lights, a festive market each weekend in December, Cork Christmas choirs and a festive installation in Bishop Lucey Park.
- The Fair Alternative Craft Market – a treasure trove of handmade crafts that would make the perfect special gift. Held at Prince’s Street Church in December.
- Christmas In Cork – see this special website for lots of local Christmas event listings and festive information.
With all the information around these days, we are all aware of how important it is to stay physically active. However, exercise can easily be overlooked with all of the other things that are going on over the festive period. With the increased stress of having additional things to do, in many ways it’s even more important to stay active at Christmas.
Physical activity releases endorphins, feel-good chemicals which can help us to relax, boost our mood and feel happier. Even simple activities, such as cycling to work, walks in the park, or joining in with the Christmas games can really benefit us.
Simply being active for 15 minutes a day can reduce anxiety, decrease depression and improve self-esteem. Lots of research also points to the fact that regular exercise, even a small amount, can boost our immune system which helps us to more effectively fight the cold and flu viruses which are prolific in the winter months.
4 ideas to stay active over Christmas in Cork
- Ice skating at Cork On Ice
- Walks in the park at Fitzgerald Park, Bishop Lucey Park, Ballincollig Park or any of the other great parks and gardens in our area
- If it snows, take advantage of the weather by building a snowman or have a snowball fight with the kids
- Do activities as a family. Why not go out with the family for a walk after dinner, to work off any over-indulgences?
Get adequate sleep
Between catching up with friends and family, and attending Christmas parties, many of us can have disrupted sleep patterns over Christmas. Increasingly, research reports show the link between sleep patterns and mental well-being. Improvements in the quality of our sleep are shown to have a direct impact on our overall mental health.
Steps you can take to get a better night’s sleep over Christmas include:
- Try to get back into a normal sleep pattern as soon as possible after the festive season
- Try to consume less alcohol during the festivities
- Keep up with your regular exercise regime or try to stay active (perhaps with the ideas above)
- Don’t forget to take a few minutes out every now and then for some quiet downtime, to minimise your stress levels