This time of year is a special time for some of us. However, for others it can be a time of stress, sadness or loneliness. Given the year that we have had, it is likely that a lot of us are already tired and stressed, which makes us more likely to react in a stressful way.
So, it is even more important for us to be aware of our own stress levels, as well as being mindful that others might be struggling with stress too.
It might be a good time to consider reducing the pressure that surrounds the season. What changes can you make for yourself, your family and friends?
Take the pressure off gift-giving
Financial stress affected many people this year, so being creative with gift giving and reducing the financial burden of gifts may be one way of relieving some pressure. Consider having a conversation with those who you typically buy presents for and discuss an alternative. Choosing second hand or home-made gifts? Time together instead?
Take the pressure off social events
This time of year can be hectic with social events and obligations. If you are feeling under pressure with the amount of time and commitment to attend events, perhaps consider choosing to go to only a few of these. We can be bound by social niceties. However, if you are feeling fatigued and stressed, this is an opportunity to consider politely opting out to ease your pressure. Learning to recognise the feelings of stress and proactively managing these are important.
Be on the lookout for loneliness
Do you know anyone who will be without a loved one this Christmas? Consider inviting them to your celebration. This could include checking on your neighbour.
If you’re the person who will be without a loved one, consider the following:
- Do something meaningful to honour loved ones you have lost, so they remain a part of your day
- If you’re physically separated from family, be sure to connect to them by phone or even better via a video call through a service like Skype
- Join a friend or neighbour’s Christmas event, catch up with a friend who will also be alone, or look out for community events in which you can feel connected to others.
Be on the lookout for these stress symptoms:
- A busy brain
- Poor sleep
If you spot them, take some time to reduce the stress (see tips below). If you notice others around you reacting with stressful symptoms, be patient, be kind, and see if you can help in some way. That may be by listening or giving space.
Look after yourself and others
Getting good sleep makes a difference in our mood, our coping and our general wellbeing. Try and stick to your sleeping routine as much as possible. This aids our management of stress.
Being active is a great way of keeping the tension down and improving how we feel.
Eating well is a good way to fuel our bodies to manage stress.
Watching out for excessive alcohol and substance use. This time is year is very social and drinking at events can be seen as a cultural norm. Too much can affect our mood, our sleep or even get us into all sorts of trouble. Take care to monitor how much you are drinking and possible consequences.
Take time out to relax Using relaxation activities, like mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation exercises are a good way and reducing stress. There are a number of free apps or Youtube videos that can be a good way to start if you don’t already have resources to use.
Being kind to ourselves and to others is a way of reducing the impact of stress and tiredness as we head into Christmas and the New Year. Even in the busyness of the season, try to keep being kind, caring and patient with others and with ourselves. This is what this season is about.
Reach out to those who you know might find this time of the year tough. That 15-minute phone call or a text message, or a cup of coffee together can send the message of care and kindness.
Get support if you or someone else is struggling
It is important to reach out and talk to someone, this could be a simple text or message on social media, a phone call or a quiet cup of coffee.
Support services are available over the holiday period
Beyond blue 1300 22 4636 (phone), the online chat (3pm- 12am AEDT) or email
Lifeline 13 11 14
Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78
Kids helpline 1800 55 1800
Alcohol and Drug counselling online 1800 177 833 (QLD)
Domestic violence counselling service 1800 737 732
Suicide call back service 1300 659 467
In emergency call 000