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Christmas Can Get Stressful – some tips for a positive festive season.

Posted 20 December 2017

With the festive season around the corner, while it’s expected to be the happiest time of the year, for some it can also be a time of increased stress and loneliness. Sadness around the holiday period can be triggered by so many factors including financial stress, loneliness, worry and grief.
 

Social Media 

When everyone around you seems to be in a celebratory mood, and you are not, it can feel isolating. It’s even more difficult to stop comparing ourselves with others on social media with all those happy pictures floating around your news feed.  If you are feeling isolated this Christmas, it may be a good idea to reduce your social media usage during this time, and utilise other forms of communication with friends and family, such as a phone call or a text message instead. 
 

Dealing with family tensions

When everyone comes together, it can be a joyous occasion, but it can also bring to the surface old tensions. Sometimes the financial burden of buying gifts and organising a feast can lead to family conflict. 
 
For others, it’s may be a time of reflecting on the loss of loved ones. This can be really difficult especially when memories flood back and you find it hard to celebrate without that person being around. 
 
Incidents of domestic violence are also reported to increase during this time, and can be triggered by the pressures of family and finances all adding up. 
 
As a White Ribbon Accredited workplace, Ability Options feels strongly about preventing and responding to violence against women, so if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence during the festive season, we encourage you to speak up. 
 
Domestic violence can include (but is not limited to); emotional abuse, physical assault, sexual assault, verbal abuse, financial abuse and psychological abuse. 
If you would like to speak to someone about any domestic violence concerns, you can call 1800 732 732 (1800RESPECT) for a private and confidential discussion. 1800RESPECT offer counselling and support services, free of charge, to those living in Australia. 
 
If at any time there is danger present, it is best to call 000 in these circumstances.
 
Whether you have too many commitments this year, or you are going to be on your own, it’s often our own expectations that increase stress. If you feel that too many outings will increase your stress levels, you have a choice to plan your day around your needs and spend time with people that are understanding and supportive. 
 
It’s ok to say no to things or just attend for a portion of the time – as much as you think you can handle. 
 

Managing loneliness

For some, Christmas is a time of loneliness where they don’t have family and friends to spend the festive season with. It is easy for  people to feel alone during a time when everyone else seems to be surrounded by loved ones. To cope better with this period, here are some tips:
 
Connect with friends and family. Even if you’re separated by distance, technology makes it easier for us to get in touch over skype, phone of email, social media.
If you can, volunteer or attend community events. If you know that you’ll be alone during Christmas day, you can make plans in advance to volunteer at a local shelter of charity and it could open up doors for you to meet with new people. You can also find out what’s on locally and get outdoors and attend an event. 
Connect with people virtually - Beyondblue has started a fantastic initiative, The Christmas 2017/New Years Chillout Lounge which is an online form available to seek support, find information or join conversation about holiday coping strategies and ways to improve mental health. A team of moderators as well as community champions who have experienced depression and anxiety monitor the comments as they are made. It’s a great way to connect with others and begin to talk about issues you might find difficult to speak about face-to-face. 
 

Talk to someone

For some of us, feelings of sadness and isolation isn’t necessarily to do with one particular reason. Sometimes the hustle and bustle is enough to bring about feelings of stress, isolation and anxiety.
 
Whether you are experiencing loneliness, health issues or family difficulties or if you are just simply feeling a bit down, the best thing to do is reach out and talk to someone. If you have a friend or family member you can talk to, maybe start there. 
 
Speaking to a professional may be helpful, because it can help you identify the core reasons for your feelings and how best to manage them.
 
If you do feel that you would like to speak with someone this festive season, remember there is help available, as you do not have to face these challenges on your own. Call and speak to someone. 
 
Lifeline - 131 114
Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636
National Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line - 1800 737 732
 
Sometimes we get caught up with everything that is happening around us so it is important to be mindful of what others may be personally experiencing – mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally – and  see this time as an opportunity to reach out to those in our communities that might be in need of a friendly smile and a chat.

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