In books and movies, on social media or in water cooler conversations, the holiday season is always a time of great happiness and cheer. However, it can also be a time of difficulty and sadness for many people. Here are some tips to help deal with the stress during this busy time of year.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY
Spend time with friends and family whose company you enjoy. If you do not have many people around for support, then try and find out what is happening during the Christmas period in your local community by searching through your local council’s website. Another option is to reach out to someone who you haven’t connected with in a while.
The holidays can be full of commitments like attending parties, hosting dinners, shopping, cooking, decorating and organising family members. One thing that might help to maintain your mental health and wellness during this period is to try and set aside specific days for activities so you can go to what you want to without overcommitting and burning out.
MAKE A BANG, ON A BUDGET
There are a lot of ways to give gifts that don’t require a lot of money. Offering to do childcare, tidy someone’s house or cook a meal can be a lovely way to show someone you care. Even writing a note on a handmade card and letting someone know how much you value and care for them can be very special. A Secret Santa gift exchange can also be an inexpensive way to share presents.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Sometimes, try as you might, things like Christmas don’t go to plan – and that’s absolutely 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. That time the roast was ruined could one day become a hilarious story that you tell every Christmas.
TRY TO ACCEPT PEOPLE
During Christmas you might meet people who you don’t always see eye-to-eye with on different issues. For some people, this can be anxiety inducing and negatively impact on their mood and general wellbeing. If you are feeling stressed, try and excuse yourself so you can take a break and regroup.
IT'S OKAY TO FEEL SAD
Many people may feel sad if they have lost a loved one recently, or around the time of the holidays. Others may be isolated and not have family and friends close by. Try to reach out to others in the community if you are feeling isolated and alone. Perhaps there is a friend or family member, or someone in your community who you can talk to about what you’re going through. It’s okay to be down, even if you usually feel you’ve got a lot to be grateful for.
If you'd like to talk to someone, try calling:
- Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
- MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78
Or join a real-time conversation on the SANE forums – https://wayahead.saneforums.org
LOOK AFTER YOUR HEALTH
It’s important not to forget about your health. It’s easy to overindulge or feel pressured into eating or drinking more than you usually would. If you can, try doing some exercise, even a walk around your neighbourhood is a great way to keep active. As much as possible, try and get the sleep you need; everything is much harder and more stressful when you are tired. Physical and mental health are closely connected so it is important to look after yourself.
TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF
Do something that makes you feel relaxed like watching a movie, reading a good book, taking a dip at the beach, or something else you enjoy. Try to carve out small opportunities throughout the day. It’s important to look after your own health and emotional wellbeing so that you can also look after others.
SET YOUR OWN BOUNDARIES
During the lead up to Christmas, there can be lots of demands on your time and attention. Try to be clear but thoughtful when informing others that you may not attend an event, or may only be able to stay a short while. It is important to focus on what you feel is best for you and your own family’s mental health. You have a right to spend your time as you wish.
EAT WELL, LIVE WELL
The food you eat has a big impact on the mood you have. Good nutrition is important for not just your physical health, but your mental health too. Taking the time to plan and cook healthy meals, and eat slowly and mindfully can help us appreciate our food that little bit more. Our minds and bodies will be thankful too.
RECHARGE FOR THE NEW YEAR
The new year is almost here. If you are looking to create a change in 2018, a good tip is to set goals which are realistic and take small steps to focus on improving your stress levels. The new year gives us an opportunity to meet new people and form new connections. Building our mental wellbeing can help us build our physical and emotional wellbeing too.