For many, the holiday season is a time of joy, relaxation and celebrations shared with family and friends. But for some it can be a difficult time for many reasons. The holiday season might remind us that someone who we held close to our heart may no longer be able to fill their seat at Christmas dinner.

Many of us struggle with the juggling act that the holiday season brings – how do we juggle our work, kids and the pressures of finding enough time to plan parties, buy presents, cook festive treats, be at three celebrations at once, manage our own personal day-to-day struggles and still be able to pay the bills, maintain the housework and keep the laundry at bay?!

And then there’s the financial pressures that the holiday season attracts – whether you get paid leave or have to save your pennies all year long to keep the funds going over your break, financial stress can be frightening and feel incredibly overwhelming. So, now that I’ve probably scared you and raised my own stress levels in the process, let’s explore some quick tips to help make your festive season feel more like a fun-fest rather than a stress-fest!

1.Maintain your healthy habits. Yes, I know how easy it is to let the silly season get in the way of the daily routines that make you feel good! Rather than going to the gym or going for a relaxing, mindful walk we may find ourselves continually indulging on antipasto platters, delicious naughty treats and champagne (or maybe that’s just me) and we forget the little healthy habits that make our personal struggles feel a little bit lighter. Remember to indulge in moderation, get enough sleep, pair that glass of champers with some H2O and keep hydrated and active. Be mindful of the little things that make you feel good whether it’s listening to some beats, spending time with loved ones or having some “you time” to just relax and unwind.

2. Manage your time. Don’t over commit! Give yourself enough room to breathe between obligations. Prioritise the responsibilities and invitations that are most important and don’t be hard on yourself if you have to decline an invitation or responsibility because you feel overbooked, overworked and exhausted. This is the holiday season after all so it’s understandable if you need some time to recuperate. Sometimes we need to put our own needs first and assert ourselves!

For some quick tips on building assertiveness see Be Assertive: 7 Tips to Build Assertive Communication

3. Be kind to yourself. During the holidays, we get so consumed with trying to make everyone around us happy that we often forget about ourselves. Take the time to take care of yourself, and check in with yourself to see how you are managing and what you may need. It’s difficult to be there for others when you’re not taking care of yourself.

4Manage your expectations. We expect a lot from ourselves and continually expect more from ourselves than we would from anyone else. Who says you need to “keep up with the Jones’” and buy expensive designer gifts for everyone? Do you really need to do all the festive cooking this year or could you delegate to get some stress off your plate? Do you really need to say yes to every invite you receive, or could you throw in a couple of “no’s”?  Be mindful of that sneaky self-critical voice of your mind, but know that it does not have to control you. You wouldn’t be so hard on others so why expect so much from yourself? Take a breath, step back and decide if your expectations are reasonable or do they need to be somewhat adjusted? And don’t forget Tip 3: Be Kind to Yourself!

5. Know that it’s okay to ask for help. Whether it’s asking for help with the festive cooking or asking for a listening ear to support you through a difficult situation that you’ve been struggling with. The festive season can unexpectedly bring up upsetting memories, thoughts and emotions that can sometimes feel incredibly overwhelming and distressing. Again, check in with yourself to assess what you might need. You may not know what you need and that’s okay too. That’s when talking to someone you trust can help you figure out what might be best for you at this moment in time. Some people like talking to someone they know while others would rather confide in a stranger. Remember, if you are finding it hard to cope there are people who can support you. Turn to someone you trust, call your local GP or make an appointment with one of our experienced psychologists at Attuned Psychology today.

If you or someone you know needs a little extra support during the festive break you can also contact the following services:

  • Mental Health Triage (Adelaide 24 hour service): 13 14 65 or your local crisis mental health service in other states.
  • Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

 

Ashleigh Stodden BPsych (Hons), MPsych (Clin)

Psychologist