2021, blink and you would have seriously missed it. Doesn’t seem like yesterday I was rushing around sorting out Christmas presents and fighting some dude in Tesco for the last bag of parsnips, but here we are… again. It’s Christmas time…. Again. 

It’s very easy to get lost in this time of year, with all the hustle and bustle, the stress of getting everybody’s presents, what to buy, who to buy for, where to buy from. Kind of takes away the true meaning of it all. You just get about 80% of the women in Stockport running around like headless chickens trying to get everything done. Or should I say turkeys. It is Christmas after all right?

It is hard but we have to keep it real. All this for just one day. I think that the main problem for me is I want to make people happy. The kids, the fella, the family. So it really stresses me out when I’m behind on it all. Every year I always say, next year I’ll start saving in August, next year I’ll start saving in July. I am now up to may next year just so hopefully I can do everything nice and chilled and actually enjoy it for once. 

Most people feel the same way as me at Christmas time. So it’s not hard to believe that over 2 in 5 brits have felt stressed during the festive season while about 1 in 4 have struggled with anxiety or depression. We have done blogs before on stress and the same rules apply on how to cope and deal with it. But one thing we haven’t touched upon is social interaction and the health benefits that come with this. 

Spending time with friends, family and loved ones can be a tonic for the soul. Have you ever come back from a gathering feeling great and on top of the world? I am literally always busy so when I get 5 minutes I do like to chill but I find that if I force myself out to a loved ones house or to nip to my friends for a bru, even though I feel like I can’t be bothered, when I get back I am glad I did and I feel very positive and happy. Time spent with people you trust and care about is good for them and it is good for you. It is nice to have a bit of alone time but too much of it can make you feel isolated and left out so it is important you try and make the effort to spend time with others for their benefit as much as yours. 

So what are the benefits of socialisation. Well it can help with your mental health, especially around this time of year. It lightens your mood and also makes you feel happier. It can also help lower the risk of dementia as social interaction is good for your brain health. Spending time with loved ones can promote a sense of safety, belonging and security and also it can let others confide their stresses and worries to you and you to them. A problem shared really is a problem halved and some of the things you are worrying about are probably things your friends and family worry about too.
With social media now being the main form of interaction that people get with one another this can portray a false sense of belonging and connectedness. We may feel like we are really sociable because we comment on someone’s picture of their roast dinner but this kind of interaction is not the same as face to face contact. For our mental health we still need physical interactions on a regular basis to avoid loneliness. This also goes for any older relatives or neighbours we may know that live alone. Even a 15 minute walk or a quick chat can help somebody massively with their mental health and sense of worth.

Look at your social circle to see if there are people in this that share the same interests as you. If not then think about branching out your circle to work colleagues or children’s friends parents even, to try and like minded people. This could help greatly with the amount of time that you prefer to spend with people outside the home. 

In this current situation you might not want to be mixing with a big crowd, due to COVID we still have to be cautious and careful to a certain extent. Mixing with people is still ok. Walks in the fresh air, meeting up in the pub are all good ways of socialising in a big space. Let’s not forget the vulnerable as they need social interaction to to help with their mental health. A zoom or FaceTime call can be a substitute for a face to face meet, or even a random phone call to someone who isn’t expecting it could be just the tonic to perk up somebody’s day.

Christmas can be a lonely time of year for some. We are also busy getting ready for the big day it is easy to forget about others amidst it all. Let’s try and think about everybody this Christmas and remember that it was only last year that the only thing we wanted was contact with others. Now we have the gift of that back, let’s use it to spread cheer and happiness to all we can.

Merry Christmas from the ForeverYoung team.  

Sent from my iPad