Christmas can be a stressful time for lots of people and even more so as a carer. There can be pressure to put a smile on your face and expectations brought about from external pressures, not to mention added financial pressures and perhaps even a reduction in support to you and the person you care for.

Here are some handy ways to reduce the stress over the festive period:

1. Healthy eating

At Christmastime it’s easy to overindulge but how does this make you feel? Bloated? Depressed? Sluggish? Quite often all the rich food and added extras can make you feel worse. Try to eat sensibly and with a good combination of fruit and vegetables in your diet.

2. Drink less alcohol

There can be expectations to drink alcohol during the festive period but it’s well known that alcohol is a depressant and can enhance anxious feelings.

3. Keep active

Try if you can to get exercise each day. Even just a short walk outdoors can give you a boost. Remember as well that at this time of winter the days are a lot shorter and it’s important to try and get as much daylight as you can.

4. Sleep well

We all feel better after a good night’s sleep. But if you are struggling to get to, or stay asleep try some of the following tips:

• reduce screen time before bed
• try not to eat too late
• drinking less and keeping active will also help aid your sleep
• practice mindfulness, listen to some relaxing music and try controlled breathing

5. Don’t feel the need to compete

It can be easy to be lured into the need to compete for the ‘best’ Christmas especially with images being bombarded to you on social media. There’s no need to compete, just enjoy Christmas for what it is and try not to compare your Christmas to other people’s.

6. Talk to someone

If it all gets too much, there are organisations that can listen. Here at Carer Support Dorset, we are open at the following times over Christmas:

Christmas Eve – phone lines open until 1pm

Friday 27 December – 9.30am-4pm

Monday 30-Tuesday 31 December – 9.30am-4.30pm

Thursday 2 January-onwards – Normal opening hours resume

Outside of these times we have an answerphone so please leave a message and someone will get back to you the next working day.

Other organisations you can talk to include The Samaritans – their phone lines are open 24/7, 365 days per year. You can contact them on 116 123.

Locally, there’s also Connection, a Dorset healthcare 24/7 mental health line open to people of all ages across Dorset on 0300 123 5440.