It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
As the year rolls towards its end, workplaces start wrapping up for the year, families start to gather, the weather gets hot, the calendar gets full...
And then the supposedly 'most wonderful time of the year' is here...
But sometimes, it's just not.
For many people, Christmas is hard.
Sometimes family is hard work, sometimes loved ones have left us during the year, or we feel bored or alone.
So - what do you do when your Christmas is not 'Bing Crosby' perfect and you're just not feeling it...
Some tips for your mental health this holiday season
Bored, bored, bored....
For many people who are on leave from school or University, sometimes it's boredom that's the issue, or just being out of routine.
The team at Reachout.com have some suggestions for things you can do to fill in the time in between term time, such as starting a book you've been wanting to read (or write) this year, or plan a surprise for someone else. This has the added bonus of making someone else feel good! (Hint: You will too!)
Check out the rest of their list here: https://au.reachout.com/articles/your-summer-survival-guide
You can't choose your family
Sometimes it's the ones you're closest to that seem to cause you the most stress. So, how can you manage when you have to spend time with them at this time of year?
Relationships Australia recommends having a 'Check-in' buddy - someone outside of your family that you can be in contact with during or after the time you spend with your family.
They also recommend taking a reality check on what to expect at Christmas...
Sandra Martel-Acworth, counsellor at Relationships Australia NSW, says, “Remind yourself regularly that the picture of the ‘perfect’ Christmas that media and society has created is impossible to replicate in real life – and that’s okay. Just like the Brady Bunch, it is not real.”
For more tips on dealing with family stress at Christmas, read more here: https://www.relationshipsnsw.org.au/managing-family-dynamics-at-christmas/
Missing someone you love at Christmas
Yeah, this one was hard to put a gif to...
Many of us have experienced grief or loss during the year, or simply can't be with the ones we love. There is no denying that kind of sadness.
Christmas and time with our family often reminds us of those we have lost because of the gap in the room. It's a stark physical reminder of our new reality.
Reachout.com are keen for us to take it easy on ourselves, acknowledge our grief and realise that it takes time. Sometimes it's hard to enjoy ourselves - or we might even feel guilty about enjoying ourselves at a time like this. Here are some things from them to think about: https://au.reachout.com/articles/managing-grief-during-the-festive-season
The team at ruok.org.au also have some useful tips for those of us who are caring for someone who is grieving at this time. One of them being to make sure we acknowledge the loss and let people know it's okay to grieve or be sad.
More tips from them here: https://www.ruok.org.au/supporting-someone-at-christmas
At a time when everything feels like people should be together, many of us often feel lonely, even when we are not physically alone.
The team at SANE.org suggest reconnecting with ourselves. When we’re taking good care of ourselves, we are more likely to be positive, and feelings of loneliness may have less power to get us down.
An idea they suggest is to brainstorm some ideas for activities that make us feel good and then start doing them.
If you're feeling up to it, you can also connect with others, either with friends or family who you feel comfortable with, or through online forums or support lines.
In partnership with SANE Australia, Lived Experience Australia has support forums available through our website, where you can connect with others with lived experience of mental health issues, and carers. It can sometimes be easier to talk about feelings with people who we may not know, so we feel less exposed.
You can access our forums here: https://livedexperienceaustralia.saneforums.org/
Best wishes - stay safe and well.
If you've been worried about Christmas coming up, we hope this provides you with some ideas on how to manage at this time of year.
Sending our best wishes to you and those you love.
If you need assistance please contact:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Mental Health Emergency Response Line: 1300 555 788
Men’s Line: 1300 789 978