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12 Days of Christmas: Our mental health top tips

As we begin the countdown to Christmas, we have taken a look at the Mental Health Foundation’s top tips for looking after your mental health and compiled a series of suggestions on things you can do to help support your own mental health during this busy period.

Day 1: Get Closer to Nature

Amidst the holiday rush and year-end work pressures, focusing on mental well-being becomes crucial. Break free from the chaos by bringing nature into your routine. Instead of being stuck at your desk, take a winter walk during lunch or organise team-building activities outdoors. Explore parks, enjoy the calm of a forest, or take in the fresh seaside air.

For those working from home, consider outdoor activities like building a snowman or having a winter picnic to benefit from nature. Connect intentionally with the natural beauty around you for relaxation and rejuvenation during the festive season. Tune into bird sounds, savour tree scents, and let nature’s touch create a grounding escape.

In managing mental health, whether at the office or working remotely, incorporate nature into your routine. Suggest outdoor meetings, designate green spaces for breaks, and encourage short walks. Promote team-building activities that involve sharing photos of natural surroundings, ensuring the positive impact of nature extends to both in-person and remote work settings.

Day 2: Learn to Understand and Manage Your Feelings

Learning to manage emotions might sound simple to some, yet as Christmas approaches, it’s important to acknowledge that this will be difficult for some. Recognise that mental health exists on a continuum, which is constantly fluctuating. During such a busy time, it’s important to create space for mindful reflection amid work pressures. Look out for signs of movement on this continuum, both in yourself and others. Check in on one another. Remember, it’s not about being an expert, but offering a safe space for conversation, whether that is face to face or through a screen.

Encourage teams to acknowledge and name their feelings, whether it’s the joy stemming from cherished traditions or the twinge of nostalgia for times gone by. Practice self-compassion without judgment, reflecting on what might be causing movement on your mental health continuum during the holiday hustle and bustle. If the holiday season becomes overwhelming, reach out to a friend or family member for a supportive conversation, create a quiet space for mindful reflection, or even consider keeping a journal to express emotions. Taking intentional steps to understand and managing feelings supports positive mental health during the festive chaos.

Day 3: Talk to Someone You Trust for Support

In navigating mental health during Christmas, a supportive workplace culture is essential. Share thoughts and feelings with trusted colleagues through virtual or in-person conversations. Establish regular virtual team-building events to enhance connections among remote team members.

Create spaces for open conversations at the office, helping to build an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing thoughts and feelings. Extend this beyond professional connections to personal relationships during the festive season. Confide in a trusted friend, family member, or colleague, whether expressing joy from gatherings or the stress of last-minute preparations.

For some, Christmas can be a challenging and lonely time. Signpost to supportive resources, such as Employee Assistance Programmes, to ensure team members have avenues to talk and seek help over if needed. Spread the message that no one is alone, and that Samaritans are available at to provide a listening ear 365 days a year by calling 111.

Day 4: Be Aware of Using Drugs and/or Alcohol

During Christmas, be mindful of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Reflect on whether you are resorting to drugs or alcohol to manage challenging emotions. Encourage healthier alternatives and create a workplace culture supporting seeking assistance from colleagues or resources. Recognise diverse emotions during the holiday season and actively embrace healthier coping mechanisms for both mental and physical health.

Extend mindfulness to those around you, understanding that individuals may be navigating personal challenges when it comes to alcohol. If someone chooses not to drink alcohol or attend the Christmas party, it’s important not apply pressure.

It’s essential to refrain from making jokes or passing casual remarks, as the full picture of what someone is going through is not always clear. By helping to build an inclusive and understanding environment, you contribute to ensuring that everyone can enjoy the festivities in a way that aligns with their own mental health and personal choices. This approach enables a supportive atmosphere that respects individual wellbeing, making the Christmas period a more inclusive and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Day 5: Try to Make the Most of Your Money

Acknowledge the potential financial strain of Christmas and remind employees not to bear this burden alone, especially against the backdrop of the ongoing cost of living crisis in the UK. Reminding employees not to bear this burden alone becomes even more crucial during these challenging times. Encourage open discussions about financial concerns with trusted friends, family, or colleagues. Organisations can promote discussions through virtual forums or in-person meetings and also promote the vital services of the EAP. Creating a psychologically safe space for employees to share their challenges is essential, particularly when financial stresses are compounded by broader economic pressures.

Collaboratively explore solutions to alleviate financial stress and ensure a sustainable approach to managing expenses during the festive season. Discuss financial goals and challenges with others, leading to creative solutions and a sense of support, in the workplace this might involve organising budget-friendly Christmas activities activities or putting a low value on gift exchanges.

For many, the aftermath of holiday, spending often lingers beyond the festive period. Post-holiday spending often leaves a lingering financial impact, especially in the current economic climate. Remind employees that they are never alone in facing financial challenges. If they would prefer not to speak to someone they know, suggest seeking advice from experts, exploring local charities, EAP or utilising budgeting apps. These alternatives offer new possibilities for effective financial management and emotional support, reinforcing the idea that seeking help is a proactive and empowering step.

In prioritising openness, seeking assistance when needed, and exploring collaborative solutions, employees contribute not only to making the most of their money during the holiday season but also to weathering the economic challenges posed by the ongoing cost of living crisis. This collective effort promotes financial resilience and wellbeing in the face of broader economic uncertainties.

Day 6: Get More From Your Sleep

Quality sleep is vital for good mental health, especially during the festive season. Emphasise the importance of work-life balance and establish consistent sleep schedules, even during the holidays. Encourage employees to make adjustments to their routine that align with the festivities, like dimming the lights in their living space or playing calming holiday tunes, reading a holiday-themed book, or enjoying a warm cup of decaf tea. Whether it’s a cosy bedtime ritual or a soothing sleep environment, cultivating good sleep practices is a gift during this Christmas season.

Encourage short breaks or relaxation spaces at the office, introducing calming elements like background music or mindfulness exercises. Recognise that quality sleep is essential regardless of the work setting. Recognise that quality sleep is essential regardless of the work setting, and by prioritising sleep in the workplace, you contribute to a healthier and more productive environment during the festive season and beyond.

Day 7: Be Kind and Help Create a Better World

As Christmas approaches, kindness is key to managing mental health and supporting others. Engage in small acts of kindness that that not only brighten coworkers’ days but also contribute to uplifting your own spirits. Smile at others, acknowledge great work, and consider festive activities like Christmas cards or a team secret Santa to build a sense of community.

Volunteer for charitable activities aligned with company and personal values, enhancing the collective sense of purpose. participating in a community cleanup, or supporting an agreed-upon charity, embracing the spirit of giving and kindness during the holiday season enriches the lives of others and adds meaning as organisations approach year-end.

Day 8: Keep Moving

Prioritise physical activity for positive mental health during the festive season. Encourage employees to keep moving over the Christmas period and to discover activities that bring them joy. This might be online workouts, winter walks, dancing to Christmas tunes, or participating in community sports events.

The joy derived from these physical activities not only contributes to a positive mindset but also releases “feel good” hormones, effectively reducing stress. Physical well-being is intricately connected with mental health, and integrating enjoyable movement into your holiday celebrations is a wonderful way to nurture both aspects. As you revel in the festive hustle and bustle, let the joy of movement become a source of rejuvenation and well-being during this Christmas season.

Day 9: Eat Healthy Food

Amidst the array of festive treats, it becomes increasingly important to conscientiously prioritise a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Elevate the joy of the holiday season not only through indulging in delicious seasonal delights but also by consciously engaging in communal dining experiences that strengthen bonds.

Stay attentive to the potential pitfalls of emotional eating. Exercise mindfulness, particularly during stressful times, and consider seeking support if necessary. Recognise the crucial role of nourishing your body with wholesome food in maintaining both physical and mental wellbeing. Take this opportunity to explore festive recipes that incorporate nutritious ingredients, adding a touch of vitality to your Christmas celebrations.

Extend the focus on nutritional well-being to the workplace by encouraging employees to make conscious choices. Ask people to share nutritious recipes and, in the office, provide a shared space for employees to enjoy healthy meals. Additionally, ensure access to an array of healthy snacks, contributing to an environment that actively values and supports both physical and mental well-being.

Acknowledge the essential role of nourishing the body with wholesome food in maintaining a healthy relationship with food. Prioritise the connection between food and well-being, ensuring a nourishing and enjoyable experience throughout the Christmas period, contributing to a healthier and more fulfilling workplace environment.

Day 10: Be Curious and Open-Minded to New Experiences

Navigate the holiday season with an open mind, exploring new traditions and experiences. Experiment with festive recipes or attend local events you haven’t experienced before. Introduce novelty into your holiday activities for excitement and enrichment. Whether it’s a unique holiday decoration, a festive activity, or a creative twist on a traditional celebration, the willingness to be curious and open-minded can bring a sense of excitement and enrichment to your Christmas festivities.

Encourage innovation in the workplace, allowing employees to experiment with novel approaches to the festive period, will be interesting, engaging and rewarding. Acknowledge the importance of curiosity and open-mindedness, allowing employees to navigate the holiday season with a sense of excitement and enrichment. Just as the willingness to explore new traditions and experiences brings joy during Christmas, a workplace that values innovation creates a dynamic and fulfilling environment for everyone involved.

Day 11: Plan Things to Look Forward To

As the holiday season approaches, plan enjoyable activities to look forward to, creating moments of joy and anticipation. Whether organising a cosy movie night or a virtual gathering with friends, strategic planning enhances can instil a sense of hope and positivity.

Enhance workplace wellbeing by planning enjoyable activities that employees can anticipate, whether working remotely or at the office. Organise team-building events or social gatherings to bring joy into the work schedule in the new year. Creating positive plans helps to contribute to a motivated and connected workforce, significantly enhancing well-being during the holiday season and beyond.

Day 12: Do What’s Right for You

As we conclude the 12 Days of Christmas, remember everyone’s mental health is a unique and personal journey. It exists on a continuum and different things will move people at different times. It’s important to prioritise individual wellbeing for a positive and supportive workplace culture. Encourage employees to check-in with themselves and create opportunities to stay well. Embrace a culture that values and respects individual wellbeing, allowing employees to navigate the season authentically. By acknowledging and prioritising each person’s unique needs, you empower the workforce to approach the holiday season and beyond in a way that resonates with their wellbeing.

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