It’s the time of year where people will be setting expectations for a joyful Christmas, and planning time to connect with family and friends. However, for many, the festive season can also highlight financial issues, family conflict, loneliness and increase stress for people with anxiety and depression. Some people might start to put too much pressure on themselves, thinking about what they should buy or do for others, while others might dread catching up with family because it may end in conflict.
Below are 5 tips to help you take care of your mental health during the festive season.
Be Present and Live in the Moment
Avoid dwelling on or thinking about the past or the future. Instead, focus on what’s happening now and celebrate the things that bring you joy, no matter how small. Being mindful can help centre your mental and physical self and promote better mental health. Practicing mindfulness can also help prevent becoming overly irritable or overwhelmed by what’s happening around you. Read more about how to practice mindfulness here.
If there is tension between your family or friends and you feel that it will be difficult to get through a gathering, consider some strategies to make the experience more comfortable for you and everyone.
- Break up celebrations to limit any conflicts – for example, if possible, catch up with one group of relatives on Christmas eve and the other on Christmas day
- Plan an activity to keep people distracted and engaged, such as a pool party, backyard soccer game or board games
- If hosting, provide low alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks
To feel well throughout the festive season, try to limit your alcohol, eat well, and keep active. While it may be tempting to cope with stress by increasing alcohol consumption, alcohol acts as a depressant which can cause anxiety and increase stress. Too much alcohol reduces an individual’s ability to think rationally, lessens inhibitions, and distorts judgment. While it is okay to enjoy the occasional drink, stay within safe amount to keep well.
Helping others or doing small acts of kindness is a great way to boost self-esteem for your own mental wellbeing. You could listen to a friend or loved one, volunteer at a local charity or community centre, take a festive treat to a lonely neighbour, or donate Christmas gifts to Salvos or the Kmart Wishing tree.
If you’re facing a difficult time over the Christmas and New Year period, it’s important to reach out and get support. It could be as simple as sending a text to a friend, making a phone call, or inviting someone over for a cup of coffee to talk about what’s happening.
You can reach out to these helplines for crisis support.
Mental Health Access Line: 1800 011 511
Salvation Army Suicide Call-back Line: 1300 659 467
Lifeline: 13 11 14