In the winter, it's so easy to feel low, alone, and hopeless. The year is coming to an end, it's dark, perhaps we've not accomplished all that we wanted to this's hard to think about.

I definitely feel like this sometimes. Even though Christmas is my favourite time of year, hands down, I still have periods where I can't enjoy it as much as I want to. I feel tired and low because I'm too tired to do as much as I want to; I miss people I've lost who I have happy memories with at Christmas; and unfortunately, a few years ago, one Christmas was tainted by a break up, and my lovely anxiety disorder doesn't want me to totally forget that every year.

But, I do my best to find positives in the negatives, and there are always two sides to a situation. So naturally, there are so many ways in which Christmas also helps my mental health.

It brings us together

I feel lucky to have friends scattered all over the country, and more often than not, I get to see a lot - if not all - of them at Christmas time. It's so nice to catch up and reminisce about old times and happy memories together, and reminds me how grateful and lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life. I spend Christmas with my family and we have all our old traditions, which makes me so happy - cos there's nothing like a bit of tradition is there?!

Productivity is at a high

Christmas is the time of year where I try to make as many plans as possible, so I'm probably busier than I am at any other point in the year. This year, for example, I started budgeting and buying Christmas presents in November, I booked a Christmas market trip with one of my best friends, I'm helping plan for a Christmas party, I booked the work Christmas Lunch...I am on it with the organising. Planning everything in advance does sometimes mean I don't get to do things on a whim around this time, but it gives me so much to look forward to and keep the ol' stress levels down.

There is light...everywhere

You can't get away from it. Whether it's in your hometown, at a Christmas market, or even in your own home on your Christmas tree, Christmas lights are everywhere. I bloody love it. Twinkly lights have always made me a happy bunny, and it's one of the reasons I adore the festive period so much. It's not even just lights though, oh's the time of year to stock up on aaaall the cinnamon, clove, orange, spiced, sweet, sickly, peppermint, etc candles and I may say nothing pleases me more than a good selection of Christmas candles. Unfortunately this year I've only got one. But I have 21 more days sooooo...

Getting musical

I am my mother's daughter, and music is a big love of mine. It has always helped me with my mental health, and sometimes you just need to belt out a carol or a corker, at church, in the car, with Spotify or with the radio. Whatever works, it has to be done.

The joy of giving

I know this through volunteering, but giving back - either through your time or by gifts, whatever you choose - is one of the best ways to help your mental health. To do or buy something that you know will put a smile on someone else's face is one of the best feelings, and I always get so excited to give my friends, family and boyfriend their gifts every year!

There are so many excuses to stay in

If you don't want to go out, it's acceptable. Winter is one of those times where it's actually preferable to stay in, cosy up in front of the tree, or have a night in with those you love. It takes the pressure off so much when all you want to do is stay in a safe and familiar place, but still socialise at the same time.

Dressing up

One of the easiest ways to get into the mood is buying even just a small item of Christmas clothing. I am genuinely thrilled by the idea of Christmas socks, headbands, earrings...whatever. It doesn't have to be a jumper if you're not on a big budget! Again, it just makes the time feel a bit more special without requiring a lot of effort, and that makes things easier mental health-wise.

M x