We know that Christmas is supposed to be a happy and joyous festive period. However, for many, this season can be a source of stress, anxiety and loneliness as many families navigate the expectations of luxurious celebrations and gifts, not to mention the constant array of demands in the lead up to the big day — cooking meals, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.
The biggest triggers of emotional distress around this time are feelings of loneliness, financial pressure or increased family conflict. Below are some reminders to ensure that we are able to maintain our wellbeing during this time:
We think that the mind and body are separate but what you do with your body can have a powerful effect on your mental wellbeing. Over the Christmas season try to eat and drink in moderation and plan healthy meals for when you’re not celebrating. Also don’t forget to move! Walk, run, swim, cycle, roller-skate, dance – aim to be active for 30 minutes everyday
REFLECTING ON THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS:
In a society that is more preoccupied with materialism it is very easy to forget what Christmas is really about. The birth of Christ reminds us that we need to try to model our actions, motives and thoughts on Jesus. That is – to take time to be compassionate, generous and kind.
When we give to others, it activates the areas of the brain associated with social connection and trust. The act of giving releases endorphins in the brain boosts our happiness, as well as the people we help. There’s undoubtedly a link between doing good things and an increase in wellbeing. Why not lend a hand to a local shelter over Christmas? There are lots of charities who need help.
You’ll connect with people and feel good about making a positive contribution. Whilst we all love receiving presents, doing something for a friend, helping a stranger, volunteering, making a present, completing random acts of kindness or simply taking the time to genuinely thank someone will strengthen relationships and create experiences that material gifts can’t even get close to
This means being aware of your thoughts and feelings as they arise. This can increase your ability to keep calm, reduce stress, think clearly, cope better with difficult situations and improve mood. Although it’s natural to respond to the stresses in our lives’ by thinking about them, it’s been shown that, by focusing on the present moment, we reduce negative thoughts and maintain a level of calmness, which is good for our mental health and wellbeing. Some strategies that may help this include:
- It’s ok to say no and only participate in activities that are significant to you
- Find time to relax
- Set realistic expectations for yourself
- Make a Christmas budget and stick to it
- Let someone know if you are struggling
Having other people in our lives matters to our quality of psychological wellbeing at every age. Our relationships with others contribute to feeling good, so it’s important to socially connect with others where we can. Developing healthy social relationships can increase our feelings of happiness, security, belonging and self-worth. Creating bonds with family and friends allows us to feel secure. Social media makes it hard to be truly present and spending hours on our screens will also guzzle up precious time during an already busy period. Christmas is all about spending time with family and friends. Use this time to build meaningful relationships with loved ones.
Below are some links if you or a loved one is struggling over the Christmas season
Crisis Care (24 hr support) – 1800 199 008
Mental Health Emergency Response Line (24 hr support) – Metro callers 1300 555 788, Peel callers 1800 676 822 (free call)