How To Cope With Christmas – Mental Health Top Tips #4

So far, three of our practitioners have given me their top tips for looking after our mental wellness over the festive period. Now, it’s my turn. My name’s Leah and I work behind the scenes in the Smart TMS marketing department, spreading the word of the magic of TMS treatment.

Christmas is on the same date each year, yet I know I’m not the only one who is shocked when I realise that November’s pay really is the last one before the big day. According to the National Audit Office (NAO), 8.3million people in the UK have too much debt for them to manage and it raises the question of whether the 25th December is worth getting into financial difficulty for. Debt brings worry and stress, which are known to cause mental health conditions or worsen existing conditions, like depression and anxiety. So, my top tips are to help you avoid getting into debt.

money box

Strip It Back

As April highlighted in her top tip, everywhere we look, there are different perceptions of what makes a ‘perfect’ Christmas. But, what would happen if we stripped back all of the expectations and looked at what really matters?

I don’t remember what gift I got for Christmas when I was seven, but what I do remember is discovering that Rudolph had left a smelly present on the driveway whilst my Dad tried to hide his muddy wellies from my sister and I. I remember being five or six and us staying at home for the whole of Christmas day, and me being allowed to wear my new tartan pyjamas and I remember hiding under a blanket to play hide and seek with our family dog, Bonnie, who would smother us in kisses when she won the game.

Whilst not everyone grew up with a father who was willing to scour local country lanes on Christmas Eve for horse manure to pass off as reindeer poo, everyone has the opportunity to make the memories of the future. Memories aren’t based on money, and good memories certainly aren’t derived from going into debt for the sake of Christmas. Enjoy Christmas for what it is really about; spending time how you want to spend it, whether that be with your loved ones or alone with a copy of the Radio Times and a hot chocolate.

The January Sales

No gift is worth the stress of unnecessary debt. Soon after having my daughter in 2012, I realised that the January sales were the place to be for Christmas presents. It might mean having to store half price photo frames for grandparents and metres and metres of garish Santa adorned wrapping paper for 11 months, but when December comes, the little bits and pieces I’ve collected throughout the year make a big difference and reduce the pressure. I recommend that everyone plans ahead – no matter how much you may not think you’ll need it.

Agree A Limit

Whether you’re buying for your closest family members, a friend or a colleague at the work’s Secret Santa, it’s a great idea to set a limit. Set yourself the challenge of sticking to the limit – it’s surprising what you can do for £10 when you put your mind to it.

Maybe you could consider homemade gifts? Last year, my daughter and I gave my grandmother the gift of time. This contained a box with 12 little cards inside, each explaining an activity we would all do together. For a lady who has lived through so many Christmases, the anticipation of opening the next month’s card was better than any gift I could have bought in a shop.

Save Little & Often

Saving up is hard, isn’t it? There’s always something that needs paying for, be it the MOT for the car or an unexpected bill. Over the years, I have found saving little and often to be the most manageable approach. Many banks offer the option to round up to the nearest pound following each card purchase you make (i.e. you buy something for £14.82 and your bank transfers the 18p to a savings account). These little amounts soon add up!

Use The Power Of Technology

We live in an age where we have more choice than ever before. International companies compete with one another to sell the most product for the best price, creating the most profit, and we as shoppers can use this to our advantage. A quick Google search allows us to see which company will offer us the best deal for the item we’d like to buy. Cashback apps also offer bonuses on purchases you’re going to make. Do you need to renew your car insurance? Use a cashback app and earn money back, which can be saved towards Christmas.