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12 ways to good mental wellbeing for the festive season

Last published 6 December 2021

Last December, a survey by Eden Project Communities revealed that almost two-thirds (63%) of people across the UK said that the COVID-19 restrictions have had a negative emotional impact on them and 40% admitted to feeling anxious this festive season.

Londoners were living under Tier 4 lockdown restrictions at that time and, although things are different this year, you might still be worried or stressed about the virus and its potential impact on family get-togethers.

At the end of another challenging year, it’s important that you take time to focus on your mental wellbeing. In this article, we suggest 12 ways to do this over the festive season, including creating small moments of connection through technology and being kind to others. Please remember to follow the latest COVID-19 guidance from the government on face coverings, social distancing and testing.

  1. Connect with your neighbours – wave hello from your home, say hi if you see them in the street, send them a Christmas card, text or WhatsApp message, or take them out for a cuppa. Or you could simply decorate your window to share some festive cheer. Follow #ChristmasTogether on social media.
  2. Stay active – regular exercise is good for both your physical and mental health. Start small and increase what you are doing when it feels right. Find tools to kickstart your health on the NHS Better Health website.
  3. Become an NHS Volunteer Responder – you might be asked to greet people at vaccination centres, deliver essential shopping to someone who lives locally or have a friendly chat with them on the phone. Acts of kindness like this are not only good for the other person, they can also give you a feeling of achievement and boost your mood. Visit the NHS Volunteer Responders website for more information.
  4. Learn something new – read a book, work on a DIY project, try out a new recipe on Christmas Day or sign up to do an online course in 2022. This isn’t just a good way to stop you getting bored; it can also increase your confidence and self-esteem. Check out the courses available on FutureLearn.
  5. Call an old friend for a chat – everyone’s had a tough year so they will appreciate the thought (just make sure you ask them how they really are). Follow #HaveAChat or #BeMoreUs on social media for other suggestions about staying in touch.
  6. Set yourself some personal goals for 2022 – whether it’s ‘Have a family dinner together at least twice a week’ or ‘Go for a walk every day’, having achievable goals is good for your mental wellbeing. Start small and build from there. If you’d like help setting goals and developing new habits, download the tomo app.
  7. Get enough sleep – when you’re stressed or anxious, one of the things that helps the most is having a good night’s sleep. There are lots of things you can do to improve your sleep habits. Listen to the Good Thinking podcast with an NHS sleep expert and check out our sleep workbook.
  8. Arrange an online meet-up with relatives or friends (especially if they are on their own at the moment) – could you set up a games night over Zoom or watch Christmas movies together on Teleparty? Get more ideas from this Wired article.
  9. Spend time in nature – go for a socially-distanced Boxing Day walk with , potter around your garden or download a stargazing app for the kids so you can all check out the night sky. Read Good Thinking’s article about connecting with nature.
  10. Be present – take a break from your devices and really notice what’s going on in your thoughts, your feelings, your body and the world around you. Listen to Good Thinking’s mindfulness podcast and download the Be Mindful app.
  11. If your situation allows this, consider what you could give to someone else – could you donate some old clothing or your old mobile phone to a charity? Or could you volunteer for a local community organisation? Search online for charities in your area and check whether your mobile phone provider runs a recycle and re-use scheme.
  12. Be kind to yourself – set aside some ‘me time’ to do what you enjoy doing or create a self-care box containing things that make you feel good. Find other suggestions in this article by Happiful.

Listen to Good Thinking’s podcast on loneliness and read our articles about five ways to good mental wellbeing and focusing on rewarding activities.