The festive season can mean a time to relax with your nearest and dearest but with that often comes extra pressure on finances, your emotions and also your relationships.
We have put together these Holiday Stress Less Tips to hopefully give you a little help and guidance if you need it.
Worrying about money can be a major source of stress during the holidays. Remember, gifts don’t always have to be bought; things that have been made or offers to share time or skills can also be very thoughtful and useful. Creating and sticking to a budget can also take the stress out of necessary purchases as well.
Take a look at our article about financial mindfulness.
It’s always important to tune in to yourself but especially when things are busy or becoming overwhelming. Take a few minutes each day to rest your mind and do something that makes you feel relaxed, whether it’s going for a swim or reading a book. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings, both positive and negative, and make time for your own wellbeing.
Tune In was our Mental Health Month theme this year. Read more about tuning in
Many of us have discovered new ways to connect this year. If you don’t have many social connections or your friends and family live elsewhere, now is a good time to reach out to online communities or to discover groups that meet up in person. Many councils publish event calendars on their websites and your local area probably has a Facebook group where local events are listed.
The holidays can be a lonely time for many, even those who might have friends or family around, particularly if those relationships are strained. It’s good to have people around you who make you happy and grounded, and can offer you support. Arranging check-ins with friends, like a text on Boxing Day, or booking in with health professionals can help keep stress levels manageable. It can also be useful to reach out to online communities that are active over the holiday period, like SANE forums, to connect with others.
There is only so much we can do over the holiday period. Generally, it’s not a good time to address long-term conflict or negative feelings. Putting those aside as much as possible may help you get through the holidays and enable everyone to enjoy the time together. If you know that you find some people difficult to be around, building in small timeouts from them can be helpful for staying calm. Being aware of your own stress levels and realistic about what you can get done is useful. Manage the expectations of those around you, be clear on what you can do, and be compassionate towards yourself.
Gratitude can help shift our focus and notice some of the positive things around us, with research showing that gratitude can improve our mental and physical wellbeing. Although it can feel difficult to do when feeling overwhelmed, a straightforward way to practice gratitude is listing three things you’re grateful for each day. They don’t need to be big, in fact, some days you might only find the smallest things to be grateful for. Growing your “attitude of gratitude” can really help reframe difficult situations during this time.
We all love it when things go off without a hitch, however sometimes big events, like Christmas, don’t always go to plan. Setbacks and unexpected obstacles are a part of life and it’s important to try to let the little things go and focus on the larger picture of enjoying the holidays, even though they may not be entirely perfect. In time, these mishaps and setbacks may become wonderful family stories!
It can feel difficult to make time to look after your body during the holiday season. However, getting enough sleep, keeping up with your regular activity routine, using relaxation techniques, and eating and drinking in moderation will help give you get through the demands of the season.
Reconnecting with family and friends can be both the best, and sometimes most stressful, part of the holidays. If someone else brings up something that is a touchy subject for the family or uncomfortable for you personally, it’s ok to find a distraction or change the subject. If there’s a person you are uncomfortable around, try to be near someone else who will not cause you distress. It’s important to practice kindness but it’s also important to focus on what you feel is best for you and your family’s mental health. You have a right to spend your time as you wish.
For some people, the holiday and new year period can be a difficult time. Some people may be isolated, may not have family and friends close by, or may have lost someone. If you can, try to contact people in your network to let them know you’re feeling low. Remember these feelings will likely pass.
If you are in a more fortunate position, reaching out to others to invite them to be a part of your festivities can also be a thoughtful thing to do. Having all gone through this year together, we know how important it is to reach out to each other.
If you are feeling concerned about your mental health, you can call one of the many mental health helplines:
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – 1300 224636
Kids Helpline – 1800 551800
MensLine Australia – 1300 789978
Or join a real-time conversation on the SANE forums.