Brits Ignore Mental and Physical Health Issues Until After the Holidays

Amie Sparrow
By Amie Sparrow,
updated on Dec 13, 2018

Brits Ignore Mental and Physical Health Issues Until After the Holidays

People rank holiday festivities as higher priority than physical and mental health during Christmas time

Christmas shopping, socialising and even food shopping are on the list of things Brits prioritise over their own health concerns for Christmas, according to data from Bupa UK.

Of more than 2,000 people surveyed, 68% admitted to putting their health on the back burner throughout the Christmas period until early in the New Year, prioritising almost everything but their physical and mental health for most of December. Christmas shopping (19%), visiting family and friends (18%), and food shop (13%) rank higher up the to-do list than seeking medical advice for health concerns (2%).

People also ignore symptoms of mental health conditions, with 30% saying they would ignore anxiety symptoms including having trouble sleeping, tiredness and irritability. A third also said they would ignore other symptoms such as feeling low and hopeless.

“If we hold out on addressing anxiety, we risk exacerbating other psychological conditions, such as depression and even panic attacks,” Dr Luke James, Medical Director at Bupa UK told Happiful.

“When it comes to any mental health condition, early detection and access to treatment can have a positive impact on the long-term prognosis, so while that last bit of shopping may seem like a top priority, we should also try and make time to visit our doctor with any worrying symptoms for a happy, healthy New Year,” he added.

“We all know that Christmas can be a frantic time: the pressure of getting everything ready for the big day can make you feel understandably anxious. When this is combined with the jam-packed social calendar that many of us experience in the countdown to Christmas it can be easy to become overwhelmed. But planning can help, as can building in some much needed ‘me-time’, where you can address any anxiety or stress you might be experiencing,” Dr Luke James told Happiful.

People surveyed said that they felt time-poor during the holidays due to the number of social commitments and activities, with 39% saying it’s too hard to schedule an appointment in the lead-up to Christmas and with many choosing to ignore the issues and hope they go away over the holiday break.

Data from Bupa’s Direct Access, a telephone self-referral service for its health insurance customers, backs up the survey data, as it shows that in December there is a 64% decrease in consultant bookings for cancer, a 21% drop in mental health bookings and a 39% drop in musculoskeletal bookings.

“Regardless of the time of year, I would always recommend that someone seeks medical advice if they experience any unexplained and persistent symptoms.”

If you are struggling with your mental health and need to talk, professional support may help. Use the bar below to enter your location and find a counsellor in your area:

Photo by Alasdair Elmes on Unsplash

Amie Sparrow

By Amie Sparrow

Amie is a contributing writer for Happiful and PR Manager for Happiful and Memiah.

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