I used to love the holidays but now I am wary about the season's celebrations and can find the whole ordeal overwhelming. Here are my top tips for looking after yourself during the holidays:

1. You are allowed to say no

Sometimes the holidays can feel full of obligations and guilt. However, it's important to remember that you are allowed to say no to things, it's important that you look after yourself first. Try not to feel guilty about trying to look after yourself even if this means not going to certain events or gatherings that may be damaging to your mental health.

2. Reach out to people if you're feeling lonely

As well as being stressful the holidays can feel very lonely. It can feel like everyone else is going out having a fantastic time and making memories and you are not. Something I struggle with as part of my BPD is reaching out to other people; I feel as if I am annoying them. However, I am starting to understand and remind myself that it's okay to tell people that I want to spend time with them if I am feeling lonely (or just if you want to hang out with them). Our eCommunity is open 365 days a year. Sign up here if you want to chat to people who understand bipolar.

3. Stick to your routine

One of the things that I find most difficult is that my routine is messed up. For me, my routine is one of the things that helps keep me stable and I find it reassuring. Last year when I was very unwell with my eating disorder this was even more prominent. However, something that I realised was that I decided my routine and it was my choice whether I kept it during the holidays. So, now I keep the same routine as any other day in order for things to feel more normal.

4. Get outside

This is something that a friend recommended to me. I experience a lot of fatigue and therefore have been desperately grasping at things that may give me more energy. My friend suggested that I may need more vitamin D. This is something that is so important in the winter (especially in the UK) as we do not get much sunlight. Also, getting outside can be really helpful for your mental health.

5. Take time for yourself

During the holidays it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and everything that goes with it, and we can find ourselves surrounded by people. It's good to remember to take time for yourself in order to make sure that you are okay. Why not do some mindfulness? I know that it is cliche, but it's so helpful! 

6. Continue going to therapy (if you can)

Not all therapists work through the holidays, but if yours does then stick with it. The holidays can be one of the most challenging and even triggering times of the year and therefore if you are able to keep engaging with therapy, this is a helpful way of managing the holidays and the stress that come with them.

7. Focus on today

It can be easy to start worrying about things that are coming up ahead, events you need to attend and people you need to see. We often end up spending the majority of our time worrying about the future without being able to enjoy the present moment. This is why mindfulness can be so good. We can remember to enjoy the times that we are currently having and not worry about the future. There's no use worrying twice.

8. Treat yourself

The holidays are so focused around giving to others which is amazing, but sometimes it can feel like we are pouring from an empty cup. Make sure that you treat yourself so that you can support others better. Fill up your cup before you start pouring (sorry for the cliché but it felt necessary! ;D)

9. It's okay to ask for help

Similarly to reaching out when you feel lonely, it's okay to need help during the holidays. It can often feel like we are expected to be happy and joyful all the time. However, for those of us who struggle during the holidays or struggle with our mental health, this isn't necessarily possible - it's okay to ask people to help you.

10. Monitor your mood and know your warning signs

It is important to be aware of how you are feeling in order to prevent a downward spiral. Why not download Bipolar UK's new Mood Tracker app - it only takes two minutes a day to fill it in and it's a brilliant way to monitor your moods and spot the early signs of a relapse.