Christmas should be a season filled with joy, family, laughter and great food. Yet somehow, though we try to plan it the best we can, Christmas can end up an extremely stressful few weeks.
Perhaps you have family visiting and there is relational tension, maybe Christmas is a time of financially strain, or perhaps your schedule is busy with events and parties that you feel obligated to go to. Whatever it is that is detracts from your emotional wellbeing, it’s important to recognise these things and learn how to enjoy your few days off to promote wellness and avoid toxic emotions.
Psychologist Niguel Calif says, “People will just run from pillar to post. It doesn’t become Christmas anymore but ‘Stressmas’.”
If you say yes to everything this Christmas season, it is highly likely you will end up extremely stressed, exhausted and there’s going to be a dent in the wallet or credit card statement.
It is important to consider others during the Christmas season, Christmas is a time where people are able to show love and generosity, but if the motives are coming from a place of ‘obligation’ or ‘comparison’ then there is no real satisfaction in the end. It is kind and respectful to do something nice for your community, and be generous to the ones you love. However, when you over commit to more than you can handle, fit things into the schedule where time doesn’t exist, or go beyond what you can afford, this can have long term effects on your mental health and your family.
Together with our Senior Psychologist Peter Hayton, we’ve put some tips on surviving the Christmas season so you never have to meet the ‘Stressmas’ season:
- Schedule in down time. If you have the time to book in dinner parties, activities and outings with the family, you will definitely have time to schedule in down time. It might mean saying no to something that is less important.
- You are what you eat. In a recent blog post ‘Food and Mood’, Clinical Nutritionist, Lisa Cutforth, explains the link between depression and nutrition, reminding us that 45% of people will experience a mental health condition in their life time. Prioritising the right food for your mind can help your body sustain good health both physically and emotionally.
- Stay active. It is no surprise that we probably all over eat. A good balance to that is to make sure we don’t leave exercise to simply a ‘New Year’s Resolution’. Even a swim in the pool, a walk of the dog or a stroll to look at the Christmas lights will get you out and about, breathing in fresh air and pumping blood through the body.
- Should I have another drink? The answer is always no, but that is not always the easiest thing to say when around family and friends. A recent blog ‘Anxiety, Alcohol and Australian Women’ told us about behaviours in middle aged women. What can start as a social engagement has the ability to turn into stress relief. With 1 in 3 women experiencing anxiety in their lifetime, it is important to avoid too much of a substance that will work against them in the long run.
- Connecting with others. Recognise those relationships that energise you and seek to spend time with those people. Being around people whose company you enjoy will allow you to feel more relaxed and at peace.
- Spending money you have vs. spending money you need don’t have. How much are you spending this Christmas? Have you set a budget? ASIC says that 57% of Australians set a budget each year and nearly 4 out of 5 actually stick to it, with 80% of people paying off credit card debt in the first 3 months. Setting a budget and having people around you that can keep you accountable to your budget plan is important. Spending more than you have in your account creates debt, and debt feeds stress.
- Have fun! Remember that laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing and joyful environments are great stress relievers. We even hear that Christmas bon-bon jokes get better each year.
It is not wrong to seek additional help throughout the Christmas period.
Professional services like Lifeline, Beyond Blue and many local counselling or psychology services continue to operate throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Try not to feel guilty for reaching out to these services if you need them. The Banyans Health and Wellness is a residential rehabilitation facility that operates throughout the festive season, and is flexible if guests wish to return home over Christmas.
Our tailored programs can equip you for the challenges you may experience over this time, and provide ongoing support into the New Year. Our programs can be designed for those experiencing depression, anxiety, chronic stress, burnout, alcohol or drug misuse, eating disorder and more. If a program like those at The Banyans may be beneficial for yourself or a loved one, please call our friendly team on 1300 BANYAN (1300 226 926) or submit an enquiry form below.