Tips for minding your mental health this festive season

Christmas is meant to be a time of happiness and fun, but it can also bring feelings of stress and anxiety for many.

With so many people to see and catch up with, the financial pressures of gift-buying and Christmas parties, and the stress of finishing last minute work before the holidays, it’s easy to become overwhelmed at this time of year.

Before the festive season really kicks off, here are a few pieces of advice to ensure your Christmas runs smoothly…

1. Set a budget
Christmas might be a time of giving, but you have to consider your personal finances, too. A small, thoughtful gift is enough if you're short on cash – don't blow your wages on huge gifts that you'll regret in the New Year. When it comes to parties and gatherings, don't be afraid to say "no" if you simply can't afford a big night out. There will be plenty of others so  accept the FOMO every once in a while and have a night in.

2. Take care of yourself
Too much Christmas cheer can leave you feeling worn out, sluggish and down in yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise and that you're eating well too. Don't go overboard on the mulled wine – alternate with water every drink or two to ensure you don't wake up with an unexpected hangover tomorrow.

3. Make time for you
With family and friends arriving home from all corners of the country (and the globe), there's a huge pressure to see everyone and to be "on" at all times. Make sure you take the time to relax by yourself and recharge your batteries too, even if it just means getting out for a stroll after work. If you find social gatherings tiring, try to organise one-on-one meetings instead of huge group events where possible.

4. Be realistic
Try to keep your expectations reasonable, especially when it comes to family time at home, which can be strained or difficult for some. The Christmas dinner table is not the time to bring up past grudges, so if tensions flare, try to set aside your grievances until another more appropriate time. A little understanding can go a long way.

5. Acknowledge your feelings
Yes, Christmas is meant to be a happy time but it's not that way for everyone. If you're far away from loved ones or find that this is a difficult time of year, it's okay to get upset. Forcing yourself to be happy will only make you more agitated in the long run. Don't be afraid to discuss your feelings with those close to you – talking things out can do a world of good.

6. Recognise signs of stress or anxiety
If you notice yourself getting overwhelmed or feel that you're not coping, don't just overlook it. Simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing, going out for a stroll or taking a break might be all you need to get back on track. If these feelings persist, consider talking to a professional or someone you can trust.