Published on: 21st December 2021
Our Mental Health Support Team (MHST) and Healthy Minds Lincolnshire Service have worked hard to collaboratively produce a 'wellbeing advent calendar' to give children and young people ideas on how to maintain good mental health and wellbeing over the festive period.
We understand that whilst the lead up to the Christmas break can be an exciting and happy time for many, the festive season can also take a toll on our mental health and emotional wellbeing. This may be due to a lack of structure and feelings of change, an increase in stress and feelings of pressure (financial or otherwise) or a time of sadness and reflection for many as they think about the past year.
With this in mind, we wanted to provide a positive strategy each day to help boost and encourage a positive mental state and thought this would be a great opportunity for our school and college communities to share. We hope that these tips for the festive period will support individuals and prompt ongoing conversations about how we look after our mental health.
Wellbeing advent calendar
Go for a walk - Walking is good for both our physical and mental health. Walking helps to boost our mood as it helps to increases blood flow and blood circulation to the brain and body.
Challenge unhelpful thoughts - Everyone has unhelpful thoughts at times and this is really natural. For example, sometimes we might tell ourselves we wont be able to do things when we haven’t even tried. We can challenge this thought by thinking of all the times we have tried something new and managed it successfully. You can find some tips on how to do this on YouTube: Healthy Minds Lincolnshire - Managing worries and anxious feelings ONLINE workshop - YouTube
Practice mindfulness - Mindfulness is a great way to pay attention to the present moment. When our head feels full of thoughts, mindfulness can help us to manage and understand them better. Healthy Minds Lincolnshire- Finger Breathing - YouTube
Think about what you eat and make sure you have a balanced diet - It is important that we eat regularly to give us energy for our brains and bodies to work. A balanced diet means eating lots of different foods including, fruits and vegetables like carrots and apples, dairy such as yoghurts and cheeses, protein which can be found in meat, eggs, nuts and pulses, and carbohydrates like potatoes and bread. We can also have sweets at treats as part of that balanced diet as long as we don’t have too much!
Connect with others - Connecting with people is good for our mental health and it can boost our mood and be a good distraction. It can also give us time to talk about how we feel.
Listen to music - Listening to the music we enjoy can help us to feel good, whether that’s listening to music with lyrics that mean something to you or a song that makes you want to dance.
Spend some time outdoors - Spending time outdoors is really good for our wellbeing as it provides us with different sounds, smells and things to look at. It is important to wrap up warm in the lead up to Christmas.
Practice gratitude - You can do this by thinking of or writing down three things you are grateful for every day. These can be really small things like being grateful for the pizza you had for dinner or that your favourite TV show was on, or they could be big things like making a new friend or for someone who helped you.
Spend time with pets and animals - Spending time with animals can really boost our mood because they provide friendship and cuddles. Stroking animals can make us feel more relaxed.
Do something for yourself - It is important even when we are really busy that we make time to do things that we enjoy. This could be, reading, playing a game, or cooking/baking.
Create a good sleep routine - Sleep is really important for our mental health and wellbeing. To get a good night sleep we would recommended turning off your devices at least one hour before bed, trying to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, and make sure you feel comfortable in your room. Get some tip from our podcast here in the MHST Podcast :: Lincolnshire Young Minds (lpft.nhs.uk)
Be active - Being active releases feel good hormones in our bodies that help to makes us feel less stressed and give us more energy. There are loads of way to keep active like running, team sports and playing on your trampoline.
Write a letter to your future self - When you are feeling good, think about what you would want to tell your future self if things get harder and you find you need more support. Reminding yourself of what’s keeping you feeling positive right now can help you through more difficult times in the future.
Give someone a hug - Both giving and receiving hugs helps us to feel connected to people and less lonely. When hugging, the love hormone kicks in which helps us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Be kind to others - Acts of kindness can help the world feel like a happier place. Kindness can boost feelings of confidence and happiness, and can make us feel in control. Acts of kindness can encourage others to be kind too.
Practice positive affirmations - Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to feel better about yourself. Some examples of positive affirmations are “today is going to be a great day”, “I deserve to be happy”, “I can do this” and “I am a kind person”. Saying a positive affirmation each day can boost your mood.
Learn something new - Learning new things can increase self esteem and confidence, it can also help us find things that we didn’t know we were good at.
Practice relaxation - Feeling relaxed helps to reduce stress and is important for our physical and mental health. To help feel relaxed, it might be good to try, having a warm bubble bath, lighting some nice, scented candles if safe to do so, listen to calming music or reading your favourite book. Healthy Minds Lincolnshire- Progressive Muscle Relaxation - YouTube
Spend time with people who make us feel good - Spending time with people who make us feel good helps us feel that we belong and are accepted. These may be people who share similar interests and could be both friends and family.
Practice self-care and look after your body - It’s really important that we look after our bodies as well as our minds in order to feel well. This might include making sure we wash regularly, brush our teeth and comb our hair.
Be creative - Being creative is a great way to express yourself and boost confidence. There are lots of ways you can be creative, especially at this time of year.
Give to others - This could mean giving a gift or giving your time. There are loads of different ways you can do this, especially this time of year. You might want to spend more time with elderly relatives or if you are older, you could volunteer. You could even give a helping hand to whoever is cooking the Christmas dinner! If you are giving a gift, this does not need to be expensive and could be something you have made - this is often even more special.
Reach out to others or ask for help if you are struggling - Christmas can be an exciting time for a lot of children and their families however we understand that it can also be difficult and challenging too. If you feel that you are struggling with mental health or wellbeing over Christmas, our services are still here to help. Sometimes we need a little extra support and reaching out to family, friends or professionals can really help us to feel better.
Think about what have you have learnt about yourself and your wellbeing from completing the 23 activities above. Think about what made you feel good and what you could do every day to maintain good mental health. Share your ideas with friends and family.
We hope these wellbeing tips have offered some support over this festive season.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us in the Mental Health Support Team and Healthy Minds!