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Looking after your mental health at Christmas

The Christmas holidays are upon us. A chance to have a break from your rowing training and to spend time with friends and family. However, for some rowers, this is a time of dread, a period away from the familiar & routine and quite possibly a time amongst people they spent all year trying to avoid.

Whilst this might seem a pessimistic outlook to those who revel in reunions, for some Christmas can trigger anxiety and a gloomy mood, likely fulled by excessive alcohol, lack of sleep and the weight of expectation.

Here are some tips to help lift your mood during the holidays should you find yourself low on festive cheer:-

1. Listen to music – Research by the Mind Lab found that listening to the album Weightless by Marconi Union, specifically crafted to promote relaxation can reduce stress by up to 85%.

2. Get some sun – if the clouds should part over the break get your wellies on and get into the sunlight, breath some fresh air and get some space.

3. Drink some coffee – coffee in moderation has been shown to boost mood. If you are already anxious caffeine should be treated with caution as this can accentuate your symptoms but if you’re simply looking for a pick-me-up caffeine can help.

4. Get out of yourself – turn your thoughts outwards towards someone else – call someone or speak to someone. Turn your actions outward – being of service is one of the best ways of getting some self-esteem in those low moments but is also a fail-safe way of taking your thinking off of you.

5. Drink water – chances are the heating’s up, the alcohol is still in the system and you over-ate foods you don’t usually indulge in. Drinking fresh water can help hydrate and flush the system.

6. Breath deeply – a few minutes of deep breathing can give your body and mind a much-needed timeout. Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique when you are anxious to rebalance the oxygen/carbon-dioxide levels which underly the anxious state.

7. Recite an affirmation – this study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that participants who practised affirmations had greater activity in areas of the brain responsible for reward than participants who did not. The positivity that is generated by the reward led to more positive imaging related to future events.

8. Tapping – tapping of emotional freedom technique (EFT) can be one of the greatest tools for reducing stress, social anxiety and has been repeatedly shown to be effective in a range of situations. Start on the Mercola site and incorporate in your daily life beyond Christmas.

9. Call a friend – make time to step outside and call a friend to tell them how you are feeling. Christmas can be a time for feeling trapped and isolated so stay connected with friends.

10. Reach out – if things really do feel desperate remember there are plenty of people to turn to in times of needs. The Samaritans run a 24-hour crisis line as do the Campaign Against Living Miserably.

Remember Christmas really is just for Christmas but if it’s all getting a bit too much hopefully some of the above tips can go some way to making for a happy Christmas.

2018-12-24T17:57:03+01:00 December 24th, 2018|Categories: Athlete Health, Mental Health|