Christmas and Your Mental Health: Can a CBT Therapist Help?
Problems such as stress, anxiety and depression can often be more intense over Christmas. If you are struggling to cope, could Cognitive Behavioural Therapy ease you over the month-long celebrations and help you manage your mental health better? The CBT team at Efficacy take a closer look.
Common Mental Health Challenges and CBT at Christmas
While Christmas can affect anyone’s mental health, it certainly has the potential to exacerbate the symptoms of those with existing conditions. You could be a parent trying to manage expectations while also coping with limited finances; you might be someone who feels isolated at Christmas, or you may be struggling with an addiction to alcohol that is difficult to control while everyone is celebrating around you.
When you consider that 1 in 15 adults in the UK has attempted suicide at some point in their lives, it’s no surprise that a stressful time like Christmas should have a potentially negative impact. If you’re having trouble coping with the festivities, you’re not alone.
Stress and CBT:
Christmas is often more closely associated with stress than anything else when it comes to mental health. If your work depends on the Christmas period, you may well be put under a lot of pressure to achieve results, working long hours and getting little or no thanks from your boss.
If you have a family, there can be high expectations that you may not be able to deliver on because the finances are stretched. Perhaps you’re worried about meeting up with family members that you don’t get on with. In truth, stress may come from lots of different directions and coping with it is not as easy as we all think.
Anxiety and CBT:
Money problems, in particular, can cause high levels of anxiety over Christmas. It can often lead people to get into debt and create issues long after the festivities have finished. If you have a pre-existing mental health problem such as anxiety, this can be magnified as we head into December.
Depression and CBT:
Loneliness is one of the biggest problems many of us encounter over Christmas, and it doesn’t just affect older people. Millennials, in particular, are likely to be isolated, particularly in large, busy cities like London. If you suffer from depression, being surrounded by people who are ‘having fun’ can make you feel even more isolated.
OCD and CBT:
Many mental health conditions, including OCD, can be made worse during highly stressful times. While you might have been able to control your condition during the rest of the year, once the pressure of Christmas kicks in, you can find those symptoms beginning to get worse. Stepping back and talking things through with a CBT therapist can help you get things more balanced again.
PTSD and CBT:
PTSD can result from a range of negative life experiences, leaving an indelible impact on the individual. As with OCD, the busy Christmas period can turn up the volume if you are combatting a condition such as this. Having to attend family or work get-togethers could be highly stressful, for instance, putting pressure on you when all you want to do is hide away.
What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?
One of the most effective ways to handle mental health problems is through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It is often referred to as a talking therapy and is recommended by NICE and the NHS for many issues such as anxiety, depression and PTSD and comes with a lot of evidence-based practice behind it.
Essentially, this form of therapy looks at the way we think about things and how we transmit those thoughts into the way we behave.
Let’s take Christmas. If having to take part in all those festivities fills you with the dread, it’s likely that this emotion may well lead you to behave negatively as well. You may be angry with family members for some reason and withdraw from any engagement, isolating yourself. This, in turn, could lead to depression and then a deepening of the anger towards your family.
Most mental health issues, of course, are not this clear-cut. What a CBT Therapist will help you do is work through your thoughts and emotions and help you find ways to cope with what is happening. Changing the way that you think about an issue can change the way you behave.
Find a private CBT Therapist near you Over Christmas
The good news is that CBT therapists are available through the NHS iAPT service. The bad news is there can be anything up to a six-month waiting list (longer in some areas of the UK) if you want to access it when referred by your GP.
People often go through a long journey before they do something about their mental health. You may have a low mood, depression or perhaps you’re finding things difficult when coping with the stressful situation and this might have been going on for a while. Talking through things before you reach crisis point is important.
Another option, particularly if you want support sooner rather than later, is to pay for the therapy yourself and go private. At Efficacy, we provide access to talented CBT therapists in London and around the UK. You can access a junior therapist for as little as £60, a Senior Therapist for £99 and a clinical director for £150.
Where Can I Find private CBT Therapists Near Me in London?
CBT is evidence-based and suitable for helping individuals with problems such as anxiety, depression, work-related stress and poor sleep patterns. It can also be used in couple therapies.
Efficacy is a CBT therapy service in London and the UK that brings together talented therapists with BABCP accreditation all in one place.
We also offer online CBT therapy. Some people find a face to face meeting with a CBT therapist a little daunting and prefer to try it online, at least at first. Online CBT is also suitable if you have a busy lifestyle or want to control the pace of our therapy. It can be cheaper than having a face to face meeting but importantly you'll still have an experienced and accredited therapist to support you.
3 Top Tips For Surviving Christmas
Even if you don’t need to address any mental health problems over the Christmas period, there are some things you should always do to maintain your health and wellbeing:
- Don’t overindulge – it can be difficult not to, of course, but too much alcohol and unhealthy food choices can make existing mental health issues worse, not better.
- Don’t feel you have to join in everything – it’s okay to say no at Christmas if you think things are getting on top of you and you need a little ‘me’ time.
- Keep your finances sensible – one of the big reasons people find Christmas so stressful is because of the amount they spend. Set a sensible budget and don’t spend more than you have in the bank. Getting into debt could mean you’re paying for everything long after the festivities have finished.
If you do find yourself struggling with your mental health over this Christmas, don’t suffer in silence. Talking through everything with a private CBT therapist may be just what you need.