Looking after your mental health during a low key Christmas

Since Covid 19 entered our lives, our way of life has had to change. We can’t see friends and family members face to face and we have just been through a lockdown to stop the virus spreading. As much of the country enters Tier 3 lockdown restrictions, what does this mean for a family Christmas and how will it impact our teens mental health?

Back in November, Professor Catherine Noakes, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said to the Guardian:

“We really have to be careful that we don’t just focus on what is going to happen in six weeks’ time..we will be better off planning.. and thinking of, actually, can we have a more low-key Christmas and new year this year?.”

Professor Gabriel Scally also added that a well ventilated, outdoor Christmas would be the best thing to stop the spread of the virus. The rules for this Christmas are as follows, from 23 December to 27 December we’ll all able be able to form a ‘Christmas bubble’. This bubble allows you to join up to two other households during this period. However, once you’ve decided which two households you want to spend time with you can’t change them. Your bubble remains the same throughout this period. (Age UK)

But what does this mean for our teens whose lives have changed immeasurably and who want be able to see much loved family members of friends?

Many teens want to go out to see friends, socialise, go to parties, but their freedom at what should be the most carefree time of their lives is being curtailed. Many have had to break up early from school to stop the spread of Covid 19.

Mind say on their website, ‘Christmas can be a tricky time, even without the pandemic. The news tends to assume we all want to have this big Christmas with family. We are all different. For some, a small Christmas might be a blessing.”

Christmas can be a time that many people, including teens will struggle with their mental health. They won’t be at school and even if they have been, classmates may have been off due to positive Covid cases. There is an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

Mind list the following reasons people may struggle with their mental health,

-Feel alone or left out because everyone else seems happy when you’re not
-Wish you didn’t have to deal with Christmas because of other events in your life or the pandemic
-Feel frustrated by other people’s views of a ‘perfect’ Christmas, if these feel different to your experiences
-Want to celebrate with someone who’s struggling, but can’t

Yet, there are ways to help make Christmas wonderful- such as making and posting Christmas cards to loved ones, doing relaxing activities like watching Christmas movies or drinking hot chocolate and video calling loved ones if you feel able.

However, the restrictions this Christmas may exacerbate mental health problems, with difficult and stressful experiences making it worse. It may also be harder to access much needed services this time of year.

What can help?

  • Be kind and gentle with yourself- the pandemic and your mental health issues are not your fault, don’t beat yourself up.
  • Talk to a trusted parent, friend, guardian or loved one about how you are feeling and what you need to cope – create a toolbox of coping methods together.
  • Communicate what you need to boost your mental health and get through Christmas this year.
  • If needed, speak to your GP and crisis services and get support or call Samaritans or text the Shout line (numbers below)
  • Plan nice activities such as using your Teen Calm box and things to do so you don’t feel lonely or isolated and make sure you are spending time with others for some of the time.
  • Take time out if you do need alone time, to rest and recuperate and explain this to your family.
  • If your mental health worsens and you feel suicidal or want to harm yourself, please reach out to your GP, psychiatrist, therapist or local CAMHS service crisis team.

If you are struggling this Christmas, call Samaritans on 116 123 or text Shout to 85258

Remember that with the roll out of the vaccine, we hope the pandemic will soon be a distant memory and that Christmas next year will be brighter. We at Teen Calm wish you a happy and healthy one.

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