Christmas 2020: the perfect opportunity to nurture your mental health and take time for yourself after the strangest of years

Who would have thought that 2020 would bring us a global pandemic and very altered day-to-day life as we know it? Why didn’t Doc from Back to the Future warn us just to skip 2020 altogether?

Jokes aside, it’s been a really tough year for everyone. Whether that’s been from lack of work, working extra hours, becoming ill or feeling lonely and isolated as the lockdowns keep coming. So many of us have suffered mentally as a result of the craziness of this year. But with the Christmas break on the horizon, I definitely feel soothed to know that I will be able to relax and slow down, even without all of the normal festivities to attend. Bitter sweet!

Although it will be amazing to be able to meet up with our loved ones over the 5-day period, we can use the remainder of our break to really work on bettering our mental health. Let’s try to begin the new year feeling revitalised and ready to conquer whatever it has to offer. (Please no more pandemics!)

Here are some simple steps you could take this Christmas to try to improve your mental health and get you feeling back to semi-normal.


Make the most of the time with your loved ones. Make an effort to put all of your worries the last year has brought to the back of your head. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, this is a great opportunity to see loved ones with the easing of COVID restrictions but please remember to be sensible.  


Write yourself a list of things that you’d either like to do e.g. watch that film you’ve been meaning to watch or take up some reading. For instance I’ve made a list of all the things I love to do which I haven’t had much time for this year, and I plan to tick every one of those off! This is good for people who like to feel productive, even when they are taking a break.


Make sure you take at least one day of pure relaxation. No plans. No leaving the house. You could even stay in pyjamas all day! Sit back and try to properly relax. A bit of escapism from watching your favourite series whilst eating all those delicious Christmas snacks is bound to make you feel less stressed!


Maybe schedule in one productive day/half day where you can get things done that need doing. Perhaps the food shop, any cleaning and laundry, or maybe sorting that spare room that has turned into a bit of a dumping ground! You might find that, if you have your productive time scheduled, you’ll be able to switch off and enjoy yourself for the rest of your break.


Take up a new hobby. I can’t tell you how many new hobbies I’ve tried this year and I cannot recommend this enough. Concentrating on something so intently can be really good for forgetting about your stressors. I’ve tried knitting, crochet (I was terrible at that!), felt craft, baking, reading more and even a bit of graphic design. Who knows – you may find something that you really love or are really good at! Perhaps even something that you can do if you’re ever feeling a bit overwhelmed. 


Take some time to do some journaling – I know this sounds ridiculous for some people, but trust me this can really put a positive spin on the year for you. You could try writing down all the good things that have happened this year – even the little things. Maybe you read a book for the first time in ages. This can help to put your year into perspective, allowing you to be grateful for all of the good things that have happened.

You could also try writing down 10 things you are grateful for and why. These could be things like “I am grateful for my lovely dog, who gives me comfort when I need it and gets me out of the house”. Read over this list, and remember all the good that has happened. I find this always shifts my mood to a grateful one, and then my outlook is very different. Check out this article by Mindful on how to practice gratitude.


Make sure you take some time for self-care! Take that bath, wash your hair, moisturise, eat something nutritious, get out in the fresh winter air for a nice walk. Whatever it is that makes you feel good and revitalised, do it.


Get some exercise. Whether that is doing an at-home workout over FaceTime with your bestie, a brisk walk or run in the great outdoors, a Joe Wicks workout on YouTube, or maybe even a spot of yoga. This will help to counteract feeling sluggish from all the Christmas food! Exercise doesn’t have to be overwhelming, just do whatever you can manage and you will see those endorphins!

I know this won’t be like most Christmas breaks, but try to see the good in it and make the most of it. This is a great opportunity for you to boost your happy hormones and feel ready to take on the next year. 

If you are struggling with your mental health and you don’t feel like you can talk to someone, there are loads of great resources online such as Mind or if you really need someone to talk to you can contact Samaritans.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Ridgeway!