Festive Activities to Support Wellbeing Posted on 29 November 2021 by Amber Gravenell in General This blog has been updated for 2023.Christmas, for many of us, is an event we look forward to all year round; but for school staff, the end of term can sometimes lead to an increased workload, greater stress levels and pressure to get tasks completed within a set time frame, e.g. pupil progress meetings, data collection, lesson planning for the next term. This is, of course, in addition to planning, present buying and the descent of the whole family over the holidays which can increase the stress that Christmas can sometimes present. The first thing to remind yourself is aiming for perfection is not realistic. We all have a different idea of perfection; it is highly subjective and near-enough impossible to attain. There are too many factors beyond our control that will inevitably tarnish the quest for perfection, such as the cat choosing to devour the turkey cooling on the worktop or your Brussel sprouts being substituted with sultanas. Although such events can be easily laughed off, aiming for perfection will make this a lot more challenging! Simply do what you can, aim for a happy, comfortable and content Christmas spent with loved ones and take the time to relax with a mince pie and leftover turkey sandwiches. After all, Christmas should be a happy time and marks the end of another challenging year. Breathe, smile, and recognise the amazing achievements you have had this year. In the lead up to Christmas, it is important to say ‘Yes’ to yourself and look after your wellbeing. Christmas can be a lonely time for many people and therefore, social wellbeing should be an absolute top priority. As well as benefiting yourself, prioritising social wellbeing will positively impact the people you spend your time with. In this blog, we will be detailing some fantastic activities to indulge in over the Christmas period which are designed to prioritise your wellbeing on multiple levels, including socially!Arts and crafts activitiesThe lead up to Christmas is the perfect time to indulge in some arts and crafts! It is proven that arts activities have a positive impact on wellbeing and mental health. The Mental Health Foundation have written a fantastic blog dedicated to the many benefits of arts and crafts. They detail the ways in which art supports mental health and wellbeing. Creativity benefits mental health and there is no better way to channel your creativity than arts and crafts! Moreover, if you indulge in art in a group setting, you can fight off feelings of loneliness and create new social connections; this, again, positively impacts mental health and wellbeing. Arts and crafts activities keep your mind and hands busy. This distracts you from overthinking and dwelling too much on negative feelings. The satisfaction you will feel when you complete an arts and crafts projects is a positive feeling which will improve your self-esteem and gives you something good to focus on. Christmas presents many opportunities for arts and crafts projects! - Make your own Christmas wreath- Make your own Christmas cards- Create your own Christmas decorations such as paper chains and snowflakes - Paint a snowy winter scene- Sketch a pet portrait for a family member/friend- Complete a Christmas cross stitch- Sew a Christmas cushion.Winter walksIn Kent, we are fortunate to have many beautiful places to take a walk. Whether you prefer the seaside or rolling countryside, Kent has something for everyone. There are many charming country parks to visit such as Shorne Woods Country Park, Brockhill Country Park and Lullingstone Country Park to name a few. Why not read our blog ’10 Places to Visit in Kent for a Peaceful Escape’ for inspiration? Walking, as with any form of exercise, is proven to have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. Wrap up warm and enjoy the many beautiful sights Kent has to offer.Writing Christmas cards to friends/familyDedicate an evening to writing Christmas cards for your loved ones. Start the task by making a list of everyone you want to send a card to, ensuring you have their addresses to hand and buy plenty of stamps (or prepare to hand deliver if preferred). Writing Christmas cards is therapeutic as it serves as a reminder of how many special people you have in your life and is a valuable way to connect with loved ones.Meditation and yogaWhatever the time of year, meditation and yoga are two top activities for boosting wellbeing. Whether you participate in meditation and yoga at home or in-person, these activities are proven to help manage common mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and help to redirect thoughts and emotions. Meditation and yoga produce a feeling of calm, which allows you to think clearly and manage the way you are feeling. If you are attending a virtual class or in-person class, you will support your social wellbeing by being part of a group and forging social connections. You can find meditation and yoga classes near you by conducting a quick internet search.Donating to food bank As you are stocking up for the festive period, you might notice you have too many tins of food and snacks taking up cupboard space. If you know you are unlikely to consume these items, why not take them along to a local foodbank? Christmas can be a financially challenging time of year for many people and with the costs of living rising, e.g. energy and fuel prices, many people are needing to use food banks. Donating unwanted food items to a local food bank will improve your wellbeing as it is an act with wholly positive outcomes. Giving feels good.Donating unwanted items to charitySimilarly to making a food bank donation, when you are putting up your Christmas decorations, you may come across decorations that you no longer want or need. Moreover, you may decide to tidy up and declutter ready for Christmas, which will result in discovering unwanted items that you no longer use or need. Donate these items to a charity shop. The charity shops will sell the items on cheaply, allowing those who need Christmas decorations or new items of clothing to buy them at a financially viable price. Getting rid of unwanted items is therapeutic and giving to charity will make you feel good, which will only benefit your mental health and wellbeing.Volunteering over the busy festive period Christmas is a busy time for many businesses and organisations, particularly charities and food banks. If you have spare time, why not volunteer for charitable and community organisations? If you are DBS checked, volunteer your services to your local primary school. Your support might be needed as a 1:1 reader or simply helping to create wonderful classroom displays or marking spelling tests. Volunteering will keep you physically and mentally active as well as helping you to forge social connections and give back to the community.Reconnect with friends/familyTake the time to reconnect with family and friends who you may not have spoken to in a while. Pick up the phone, send a letter or ping an email across – even better still, why not organise a face-to-face catch up? Reaching out to family and friends will enhance your social wellbeing and will stave off feelings of loneliness. On the flip side, your family and friends might also be struggling this festive period with their mental health and wellbeing. For example, older relatives/friends might be feeling isolated and lonely. Reaching out and reconnecting can only be a positive action for all parties involved.Invest in a 2024 diary and calendar; start making plans Pop to the shops and pick up a 2024 diary and calendar. Start marking out key dates for 2024, including birthdays, holidays and events. Then, why not reach out to friends to schedule in days out ahead of time? Get your social wellbeing off to a flying start ahead of the new year.Organise collaborative Christmas shopping trips with friendsChristmas shopping can be stressful! It is the busiest time of year in retail and you can be sure to face crowds on your visit to the shops. Why not arrange to go Christmas shopping with friends or family? It will make the experience more enjoyable and will hopefully detract from the crowds and hustle and bustle. It is also a fantastic opportunity to prioritise your social wellbeing.Organise group wrapping sessions Similarly, wrapping presents can become a bit of a chore! Some of us simply are not blessed with exceptional wrapping skills. Why not invite a friend or family member over to do your Christmas present wrapping together? It is another great opportunity to reconnect and spend quality time with those you love.Donate a present to charityOver Christmas, you will find many charities/community initiatives appeal for Christmas presents, e.g. The Salvation Army Christmas present appeal. Some initiatives feature specific gift requests for individual children; you select the child you want to buy the gift for, purchase the specified gift, wrap it and donate it to the scheme. It is a great way to ensure those who are less fortunate have a fantastic Christmas and receive a gift. It will also serve to give you purpose as well as making you feel good by helping others.Christmas baking Christmas is the perfect to indulge in baking! There are endless delicious Christmas foods you could try your hand at making, such as gingerbread men, Christmas cakes, mince pies and savoury snacks. As well as having plenty of food to enjoy as a result of your baking efforts, you will have a task to focus on and a sense of accomplishment awaiting you at the end.Get organised with to do lists There are seemingly endless things to do before Christmas, both on a professional and personal level! Make yourself a To-Do List and prioritise tasks accordingly. This will help you be organised this festive period and saves last minute panic. Panic and stress negatively impact wellbeing and organisation is key to reducing this.Support local businesses by visiting Christmas markets/fairs There are an abundance of Christmas markets and fairs to enjoy in Kent in 2023. As well as being an enjoyable day out, which will be sure to get you in the festive spirit, Christmas markets/fairs are an ideal way to support local businesses. Getting out and about is also fantastic for your social wellbeing as you will inevitably interact with many people.Relax with Christmas films and music Rest and relaxation are key to wellbeing! Take the time to indulge yourself with cheesy Christmas songs and heart warming festive films. Organise family fun daysChristmas is a particularly special time of year for families. Plan ahead and pencil in family days throughout the festive period. There are numerous fun ways to spend time together as a family including Christmas days out, board game tournaments in the comfort of your home, family meals and film nights.Social media detoxSpending too much time online can be damaging for mental health and wellbeing. It is key to remember that the content shared on social media isn’t always a true reflection of people’s lives; nobody’s life is picture perfect. Scrolling through social media makes you vulnerable to comparing your life to other people’s lives. This will have a negative impact on you. Why not have a social media detox for at least one day per week? Device free SundaysSimilarly, why not ditch your mobile devices for a whole day on Sundays? Ensure you are contactable by phone in case of emergencies, but refrain from texting, messaging, scrolling through social media or sending emails just for one day a week. You will reap the rewards of your digital detox. Reflect positively on the yearTake the time to think about all the things that went well for you in 2023 and reflect on positive decisions you made and achievements you had. It is all too easy to dwell on the negatives in life, so remind yourself of all the good choices and things that have happened to you and your loved ones in 2023.Start a conversation with a colleague/neighbour who you’ve not spoken to beforeTake the time to talk to a neighbour or colleague who you have not interacted with before. You will forge a new social connection which not only benefits you, but them as well. Pamper yourselfMake time for yourself and indulge in some self-care. Self-care varies from person to person but some popular ways to relax and pamper yourself can include purchasing a new Christmas candle to enjoy, using some Christmas bath bombs, listening to relaxing music, applying a face mask and getting your hair/nails done. However you choose to spend this festive period, make sure you prioritise your wellbeing and take care of yourself and those you love. It is all too easy to be hard on ourselves and dwell on the negatives. By making time for some of the activities mentioned above, you will be ensuring positive wellbeing and mental health as well as positively impacting the lives of those around you. The festive season is the perfect time to open a good book and get reading, see our list of the top Christmas books for your school in our blog, 'Christmas Literature in the Classroom'.