Ditch the Festive Season Stress

The festive season is often portrayed as the most wonderful time of the year – relaxing among friends and family, sharing in delicious meals, and giving thoughtful gifts. But for many people isolation, financial pressures or increased family conflict, bring a certain irony to tidings of comfort and joy.

This is why it is important to practice a little self-care in order to halt any negative impact to physical and mental wellbeing.

Family Time or Family Tension?

Holidays often mean more time with family. While it’s a lovely thought, family time can be tricky, particularly if there is long-standing tension between family members. Try these tips to skip family-related stress:

  • manage your expectations, be realistic, and remain flexible when things don’t go perfectly,
  • if you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation,
  • avoid topics that might trigger conflict, and take a break to help events run smoothly,
  • play a game with the kids or walk the dog if the adults seem like too much.

Going it alone.

Loneliness can be challenging around Christmas time and can have a huge impact on health and wellbeing. Finding the courage to reach out and connect with friends and family can reduce feelings of loneliness and improve mental health. Think of ways you can get connected. You could try:

  • volunteering or attending community events to connect with others,
  • making a plan for Christmas day – this doesn’t have to involve other people! Buy yourself a gift you will love using on the day, make a fancy breakfast, or set off on a hike.

Festive Fit or Festive Fatigue?

Christmas is a time where overindulgence is common. This can have a negative impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Stay fit and healthy by trying these tips:

  • try eating healthily and regularly throughout the lead up to Christmas day,
  • make simple food swaps – trade fatty and sugary foods for healthy alternatives, choose water instead of alcoholic or sugary drinks, and control your portion sizes,
  • continue with your exercise routine, or find other ways to get moving such as going for evening walks,
  • get to bed at a reasonable hour and maintain healthy sleep hygiene to keep you well-rested.

Spending savvy – or, maybe not.

With work parties, expensive meals, holiday cards, and dozens of presents it’s no wonder people feel stressed about Christmas festivities. Have a go at some of these tips for less festive financial stress:

  • set a budget and stick to it – identify what is causing you financial stress and prioritise your spending,
  • plan ahead, make spending decisions early to prevent regret, and avoid the temptation to impulse buy,
  • find low cost ways to have fun such as BBQs with friends instead of dinner out, or suggest a holiday lunch where everyone brings a plate.

Too Much To Do!

Between long work hours, the pressure to get things finished, and any additional commitments of the holiday season, many of us feel more tired after our Christmas “holidays.” To keep Christmas fun and relaxing, you could:

  • learn to use one of the most powerful stress reduction tools you have! Just say ‘no!’
  • manage your workload, put in healthy boundaries, and avoid pushing yourself too hard for requests that are more than you can handle,
  • decide ahead of time which festive events you will make time for – don’t force yourself to attend everything you’re invited to,
  • create a list of what you’d like to do as well as what you have to do and do the best you can with the time and resources you have.

This holiday season, get some rest, enjoy a laugh and have a plan in place to help you stress less. Most importantly, make time for yourself amongst all the time you’re making for everyone else. It’s your holiday too.

Need to talk to someone? Help is available at any time by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78, or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.