The festive season is a time of celebration and joy. However for some of us, the festive season may represent more stress, isolation and poor mental health outcomes than any other time of year.


It is easy to get carried away with high expectations of yourself, including buying the perfect gift, attending all of the social events on your calendar or cooking a delicious meal for loved ones. Be aware of your self-talk. “Shoulds” can be unhelpful and increase the pressure we place on ourselves to get things done perfectly. Instead take moments to reflect on your self-talk, and try to be more self compassionate. Try to approach festivities with realistic expectations of yourself and others. Setting limits may also be helpful, including the financial limits for gift giving to prevent later financial strain. 


At this time of year, we also tend to let the essential self-care activities fall by the wayside. This includes getting enough sleep, regular exercise and eating healthy meals. Getting back to basics to maintain mental health and wellbeing is important.  Festive celebrations often involve excessive alcohol consumption for many Australians. While alcohol temporarily produces positive feelings and relaxation, perhaps buffering a boring family event, when its intoxicating effects wear off it can contribute to anxiety, stress and depression. For people with substance use issues exposure to alcohol and other substances during the festive season may leave them vulnerable to relapse. It is important to recognise high-risk situations when you might use or overuse substances. Ask yourself can you avoid the situation or suggest an alternative event or activity that has less focus on drinking.  Alternatively, social support at high-risk times may be of help.  


Family gatherings can also be a source of conflict and stress. Those with separated, blended or stepfamilies can face significant challenges in managing complex family structures and arrangements. For people who have experienced loss throughout the year, whether through death, divorce, or other circumstance, Christmas time can bring up feelings of grief and loneliness. Isolation can be even more difficult to cope with at this time of year, as society creates expectations of the social aspect of Christmas. Volunteering for a charity is one way of increasing social connection and fostering positive feelings, but awareness of other professional supports such as the availability of Lifeline services can also be helpful. 


Tips for surviving and thriving during the festive season:

–       Be aware of your expectations and set limits  

–       Try and maintain usual self care activities and healthy lifestyle behaviours 

–       Enjoy alcohol in moderation

–       Limit social isolation, know the supports available to you

–       Be kind to yourself if you are experiencing grief

–       Take time for yourself if family conflict arises and set healthy limits. 


Credited to:lifestylemedcentre


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