The holidays can sometimes be a time of tension around spending and a source of arguments as priorities may be different between family members ad friends. Or you may find yourself in an unexpectedly tight financial situation and need to do Christmas differently this year.
- Work out a budget for presents or events
- Remember gifts to people don’t always have to involve money, donating your time and knowledge and making handmade gifts can be very meaningful to people
- Sometimes you can buy the presents you want in the post-Christmas sales, so if the person you are buying for can wait, or you won’t be seeing them until after Christmas, buy their gift in the sales
- There are many free things to do over the summer holidays to help you reduce your spending like going to the beach and parks, attending public festivals and hanging out with family and friends
Earlier this year we wrote about taking control of your finances, particularly at Christmas.
The holidays can get so busy that sometimes it feels like there’s no time to relax. Take a few minutes every day to rest your mind and make some time for your own wellbeing.
Do something that makes you feel relaxed like watch a movie, read a good book, take a dip at the beach, or something else you enjoy. Acknowledge your feelings, whether you feel joyous or overwhelmed, and forgive yourself if things don’t go to plan.
Sometimes the holidays can be isolating if you don’t have many social connections or many of your friends and family are away. Try to spend time outside engaging in a community activity. Go to a gallery, find a nice walk near you, search online to find out what’s happening in your local community over the holidays. Many councils publish event calendars on their websites and your local area probably has a Facebook group where local events are listed.
It’s good to have people around you who make you happy, who you can speak to about things without judgement and who can help you feel grounded and offer you support when you need it. Arranging check-ins with friends, like a text on Boxing Day, or booking in with health professionals can help keep stress levels manageable. It can also be useful to reach out to online communities, like SANE forums, if you’d like to connect with others
Holidays aren’t a time to address long-term conflict. Try to let go of past negative feelings at least for one day. It will help you get through the holidays and enable everyone to enjoy the time together. Try to have an open mind and remain more relaxed during the celebrations by taking small timeouts from people who are challenging throughout the holiday period.
Remember you may not be able to do everything you want or keep everyone happy during the break. Manage the expectations of those around you, be clear on what you can do, and be compassionate towards yourself.
During high-stress periods, finding things to be grateful for can feel difficult, but research has shown that gratitude can improve our mental and physical wellbeing. Gratitude can help shift our focus and notice some of the positive things around us. A simple way to find gratitude is to make time each day to write down three things you’re grateful for – they don’t need to be big, some days you might only find the smallest things to be grateful for. Growing your “attitude of gratitude” can really help during this time.
Sometimes, try as you might, things like Christmas don’t go to plan – and that’s OK and a part of life. Try to let the little things go and focus on the larger picture of enjoying the holidays, even though they may not be entirely perfect. The time the roast was ruined could one day become a hilarious story that you tell every year!
Getting enough sleep, keeping up with your regular activity routine, using relaxation techniques, and eating and drinking in moderation will help give you the stamina to get through the demands of the season.
If there are touchy subjects with your family and friends, try not to bring them up during the holidays. If someone else brings up the topic, find a distraction and move on to another subject. If there’s a person you are uncomfortable around, try to sit near someone else who will not cause you stress.
It’s important to focus on what you feel is best for you and your family’s mental health. You have a right to spend your time as you wish.
For some people, the holiday and new year period can be a sad time. Some people may be isolated and not have family and friends close by, or have lost someone. If you can, try to reach out to people in your network to let them know how you are feeling. Remember these feelings will likely pass.
However, if you are feeling concerned about your mental health, call one of the many mental health helplines:
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224636
- Kids Helpline – 1800 551800
- MensLine Australia – 1300 789978
Or join a real-time conversation on the SANE forums