Despite the ‘five days of Christmas’ plan the government has announced, details of which can be found here, many people will still not be able to enjoy Christmas in the way they usually do this year. The government guidance states that from the 23rd to the 27th of December this year, people are permitted to form a Christmas bubble. This would mean that up to three households could socialise in an unrestricted way indoors and outdoors in that time. The three-household bubble could attend churches or other places of worship, restaurants and pubs.
In short, it will allow many people to enjoy the festive period and socialise with loved ones in a way that we have been unable to do for much of this year. But what if you can’t form a Christmas bubble? Christmas can be a hard time in normal years without the looming presence of a viral pandemic overshadowing the proceedings. Here at Kennett Road Dental Practice, we want you to be safe this Christmas and to look after your mental wellbeing. So, we have brought you our top five tips on handling Christmas this year and maintaining balanced full-body health.
- Be aware. Mind.org suggests that “whether or not Christmas is part of your life, your mental health might be affected by it happening around you. It’s a time of year that often puts extra pressure on us, and can affect our mental health in lots of different ways.” That means that even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, the hype of it and constant reminder of it can affect your mental wellbeing negatively, especially if you are not with loved ones this year.
We suggest taking some time for yourself this festive season to become aware of your mental state. Perhaps trying meditation or mindfulness exercises can help you listen to yourself and to align your thoughts to more positive avenues. A bit of quiet time in the chaos of Christmas can do wonders for your mental balance and being aware of your mental state is the first step to improving it.
- Consider New Year’s Eve. It isn’t only Christmas we need to be mindful of. New Year’s Eve can have a profound effect on us. This year has been tough on many. Covid-19 hasn’t left any of us alone. Whether you’ve lost loved ones this year, felt lonely or the lockdowns have affected your finances negatively, looking back on this year might be very hard for you. Prepare yourself for NYE being different this year. Not just with the absence of parties and social events but also emotionally. New Year’s Eve will likely feel different this year as we look back on the last year and look ahead to the next.
None of us know what 2021 will have in store for us and this pandemic has taught us that life is precious and should never be taken for granted. While that is true, looking ahead to an unforeseeable year might make you anxious and unsure about the future. Mind advises that “New Year may also feel like a hard time, if it makes you look back at difficult memories or worry about anything in the coming year”. If you have worries, make sure you have someone to talk to about them. That could be a family member or friend, or someone on the other end of a phone you’ve never met. A problem shared is a problem halved and we’re sure you wouldn’t mind a bit of emotional weight lifted.
- Get in shape. Speaking of lifting weights, did you know that exercise can improve your mental health? It’s been said that since we’ve had such a hard year this year, that we deserve to let ourselves go and veg out on the sofa with a tin of Quality Street each. Well you could do that, of course, but comfort eating doesn’t help in the long run. Live Science outlines how being overweight can lead to a compromised Immune system and that is not something we need right now. They write that “for obese individuals, shedding just 10 pounds could straighten out an off-balance immune system”.
We encourage you to get up off the sofa this Christmas and make a Boxing Day ramble a new tradition for your family. Maybe the kids would benefit from getting a fitness game from Father Christmas as well as the new FIFA. Think of activities you can do together as a family or if you’re on your own this Christmas why not organise a socially distanced walk with a neighbour or friend? Fresh air is a natural mood-lifter and exercise has been proven to release endorphins and improve your mental state as well as physically. According to NCBI, “exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function”. So, a bit of activity this festive season could improve your immune system, your physical health and your mental health. You have nothing to lose by trying a new home workout (except a bit of weight), so up you get and get moving!
- Connect with people. We know not everyone will be a part of a Christmas bubble (or as we like to call them: baubles) this December. Perhaps you’re one of three grown-up children and the other two are forming a bubble with Mum and Dad because they have kids who they need help with over Christmas. Perhaps you don’t live near your family and don’t want to risk travel or maybe a member of your household is shielding for medical reasons. Whatever the reason, some people will not be spending Christmas with who they want to or might even be spending it alone.
Reach out to your friends and neighbours this Christmas, to ensure everyone has someone to talk to on Christmas day. It’s often been said in this pandemic that “we’re all in this together”, but we’re not all going to manage in the same way. For some people, the restrictions will mean that comfort and joy will be in short supply. Make sure you are connecting with people this winter, even if it’s over the phone or on video chat. Be virtually social even if you have to be physically isolated. NHS England recommends that “maintaining healthy relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing”. We couldn’t agree more, so stay connected.
- Look after your dental health for your mental health. Alright, you caught us, but we had to sneak it in somewhere didn’t we? Protecting your dental health is worthwhile all year round but our point is that toothache or other avoidable dental problems can seriously add to your mental burden at this time of year. Trying to figure out how the bubble system works, combined with attempted socially distanced Christmas shopping can send anyone off the deep end, so don’t add preventable dental issues to your load.
It’s a busy time and every other advert on the television has a glass of fizzy wine or a hunk of sugar masquerading as a piece of healthy fruit in it. We’re just saying, don’t forget to look after your teeth this festive season. Your bodily health and mental health are very important to look after, but your teeth are a part of you too and your smile is worth protecting. Your pearly whites might even need a little extra care in the weeks ahead what with acidic fizzy drinks and sugary, foil-wrapped goodies mysteriously placing themselves within arm’s reach. We know treats do that at Christmas.
Remember to protect your full-body health this December and make the right choices to start 2021 off on a good note.