It’s getting to that time of year again and every year it seems to come around quicker. From Christmas to New Years, the end of year break can be filled to the brim with holiday gatherings, activities, and events. For some, this time of year can be met with excitement, anticipation, and joy as we reconnect with loved ones, travel, and join in the spirit of gift giving. However, now more than ever it can also be a time of stress, exhaustion and angst.
Why do we feel stressed or anxious around the holidays?
Many factors that can affect your mental health and contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, stress and loneliness during this period, without even realising it we can start to feel overwhelmed. Some reasons may include:
- Planning and hosting holiday gatherings.
- Managing busy calendars and long to-do lists.
- Gift giving, food and travel expenses.
- Unrealistic expectations of yourself or others.
- Spending the holidays alone or away from family and friends.
Here are some tips to help manage your stress and bolster your mental health during the holidays…
Acknowledge your feelings – if you are feeling anxious, sad, or overwhelmed during this time of year, that is ok. Practice self-compassion and allow yourself to accept and feel your feelings.
Say No – When you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to simplify your calendar and prioritise what is important. It’s ok to say no to situations which cause stress and prioritise those which bring joy and energise you.
Set a budget and stick to it – Work out how much you can afford to spend on gifts, food and travel. If you are looking for ways to save money on gift giving this year, here are some suggestions:
- Family gift exchanges can lighten the pressure of buying for every family member.
- Choose handmade gifts; food or even a handwritten letter of appreciation can make a lovely gift for a loved one.
- Offer a service to family and friends as a gift; baby/kid-sitting for family while they take some time for themselves makes for a thoughtful gift.
Plan ahead – Setting aside time for shopping, cooking, social activities and rest can help relieve stress and feelings of overwhelm.
Maintain a sense of rhythm – While the holiday period is usually a time of over-indulgence, this can also lead to feelings of guilt or shame. Maintaining healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep, eating a (mostly) healthy diet and keeping active can help you keep perspective and enjoy the festive celebrations in moderation.
Take a break – Plan meaningful rest times that enable you to shut off and relax. Take a walk, listen to music or read a book, and if you find yourself in a stressful situation then removing yourself from it may be the better option.
Seek professional support – If despite your best efforts, your feelings are overwhelming, and you need additional support reach out to your Doctor or contact our friendly team to discuss how we can best support you.
Additional Mental Health Support:
If you need support over the end of year break, including Christmas Day the following services are available for 24/7 support:
- Lifeline – Connect with a lifeline crisis supporter.
13 11 14
- Suicide Callback Service – Phone, video and online counselling.
1300 659 467
- Kids Helpline – phone and online counselling for 5–25-year-olds
1800 55 1800
- 13 Yarn – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Crisis Support
13 92 76
- Beyond Blue – Online peer support, phone and video counselling
1300 224 636
- Mensline – Phone and video counselling for men
1300 789 978
- 1800RESPECT – Phone and online chat counselling for domestic and sexual abuse
1800 737 732
- If life is in danger call Emergency Services – police, fire and ambulance.