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#CareAtChristmas: Tips for mental and financial wellbeing

Stylised heron wearing a Santa hat

Manshi, a graduate of our MSc Public Health degree, shares some tips for our mental and financial wellbeing this Christmas.

1. Be confident, gentle, generous and patient with yourself

Generally, the holiday season is a favourite time of year. We are often expected to ensure we have holiday plans, gifts, meals, and get together but sometimes these expectations add anxiety, stress, and tension, and open the gate for concerns related to mental health.

Feeling alone, feeling left out, frustrated by others' demands for a 'perfect' Christmas or wanting to celebrate the festive season in a different way put pressure on the individual. Always remember you are not alone, you can try to do things differently, and you can reach out to friends and family for support.

Don't be too hard on yourself, if it turns out well then that is a bonus and, if not, then at least you have tried every possibility.

The holiday season also demands giving adequate attention to our own health, physical activities, and psychological wellness. Prioritise what is best for yourself and your loved ones. Get some exercise: a brisk walk or cycling maybe. Physical activity triggers the release of hormones like serotonin and dopamine that reduce stress, improve mood, and help to combat depression. Self-care is about managing physical and psychological stress through appropriate responses.

Don't only celebrate the festival. Focus on enjoying Christmas. Do some activities that you like writing a journal, reading a book, making a new playlist, or any other activity that makes you feel recharged. This will make you ready for holiday cheer!

Use mindfulness techniques like meditation and deep breathing to increase self-awareness and stay calm during the holiday season. Make it a habit to write down 20 points that you are grateful for; it will elevate your mood and put you in a positive state.

2. Plan ahead and respect your budget

Sometimes, it gets hard for you to spend as you want at Christmas, perhaps because you don't have timely payments or benefits or wages; or perhaps because it's hard to know how to plan expenses.

Make notes, prepare a list of activities, prioritise what you need, and think about who can help you and what you need to cope. Include on your list how much you'll be able to spend this holiday season on gifts, decorations, trips, baking, etc. Setting some financial boundaries will help you to start small and be consistent.

Use the holiday time to make short-term and long-term goals and plans that really make a difference to your life. Try to plan something nice to do after Christmas. Having something to look forward to next year could make a real difference.

Suggested books to read:

  • The Power of Now: Eckhart Tolle
  • Awaken the Giant Within: Anthony Robbins
  • Dare to Lead: Brene Brown
  • Atomic Habits: James Clear
  • High Performance Habits: Brendon Burchard
  • The Power of Habit: Charles Duhigg
  • Eat that Frog: Brian Tracy
  • Deep Work: Carl Newport
  • Ikigai: Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
  • As a Man Thinketh: James Allen

By Dr Manshi Mankiwala

Manshi completed her MSc Public Health at ARU in 2011 and is our Alumni Ambassador for India.

Published as part of ARU's #CareAtChristmas campaign 2022.