Christmas can be a stressful time of year in normal times. Christmas during a cost-of-living and energy crisis, with record waiting lists and healthcare vacancies, looks set to bring a whole new wave of challenges.
Healthcare workers are so used to looking after other people that they often forget to look after themselves. This is our guide to surviving Christmas 2022.
Times are tough. Inflation is sky high and wages are not keeping pace with it, meaning the sharpest fall in real wage growth since 1977.
With prices soaring, it’s more important than ever to keep your spending under control this Christmas. Set yourself a budget based on what you can afford to spend and plan what you’re buying and how it will fall within that budget before you start. Remember the hidden extras like food, decorations and travel. If you’re having people round for Christmas dinner, don’t be afraid to ask them to bring drinks, Christmas crackers or a dessert to help share the cost around a bit.
Above all remember, Christmas is just one day in a year. Don’t get yourself in a bad financial situation for the sake of this one day.
Rail strikes and postal strikes are playing havoc in the lead up to Christmas.
If you’re posting Christmas cards or gifts, post them as early as you can to try to make sure they get there on time. Deliver them by hand if you possibly can.
If you have any travel plans before Christmas or over the festive period itself, check and keep checking that your trains are still running, it’s a fluid situation and things are changing all the time. If you are travelling away from home, it might be worth thinking of a back up plan for getting back if things change while you are away. Any trains that are running might well be busier than usual so take that into account when you’re travelling.
As you'll know, NHS workers, including nurses and ambulance drivers, are also planning to go in strike in December. Make sure you keep up to date with all relevant communications so you are up to date with the latest situation. If you are planning to strike, make sure your employer knows so they can make sure patients' well-being and care aren't compromised.
The short, dark days of December don’t help anyone’s mental health and, between the freezing weather and snow and ice that comes with it, this month has been particularly challenging.
If you have plans or you need to get into work, check the weather forecast ahead of time so you can prepare and have a plan b if conditions are set to be challenging. You might need to change non-essential plans to make sure you get to where you need to be safely.
Christmas is a lot. No matter what your mental health is like for the rest of the year, the pressures and emotions around the big day put pressure on everyone. You might feel as though your Christmas isn’t living up to the vision of a ‘perfect Christmas’, you might feel alone, left out because you're working or it might be that being surrounded by people is difficult for you.
If you have an existing mental health condition it might make it hard for you to spend Christmas how you want or you might find it harder to access the services that usually help you.
If you’re finding things difficult, remember to be kind and patient with yourself. If you’re finding everything too much, take time out by yourself whether you go for a walk, enjoy a hot drink by yourself or just listen to music.
‘Everything is moderation’ may be a cliche but it’s worth keeping in mind over Christmas. Eating too much food or drinking too much alcohol can have negative physical and mental side effects so don’t be afraid to politely decline seconds or a refill of your glass if you’re a guest at someone’s house.
Wherever possible, get out of the house at least once a day over the Christmas even if it’s just for a short walk. It will boost your mood and help keep your mind fresh and focused.
Try and go into the festive period with realistic expectations and avoid unhealthy comparisons with what you see on social media or in advertising. You may find it helpful to limit your exposure to social media over Christmas.
If you feel overwhelmed or like you need someone to talk to, you can call Samaritans on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time - even on Christmas Day itself.