Looking after yourself during the festive season
The festive season can be a fun and an exciting time for catching up with family and friends, attending parties and events, buying gifts, and preparing yourself for Christmas day. The festive season can be a busy and stressful time for many but for others, this can bring about feelings of isolation and loss. When getting caught up in the hype of festivities, it is easy to forget about taking care of ourselves. Here are some guidelines to help you get through the festive season and into the New Year.
1. Take time out
As the festive season can be a busy time catching up with friends and family and doing other activities, it is important that we also take time out to relax and have some space. Listen to your emotions and know your limits. Some great ways to take time out include going for a walk, listening to music, finding somewhere quiet to chill or listen to a guided meditation (headspace Osbourne Park).
It is important that we look after ourselves by getting enough sleep, exercise, eating well, keeping hydrated, doing activities we enjoy, and being connected with our friends, family and community. Self-care helps keep us physically healthy and helps us to feel good.
3. Manage your expectations
It can be difficult to escape the many images of happy families, friend’s reuniting, gift giving, and people smiling and laughing in the media or on TV. Christmas may be a happy and enjoyable time for some but for others, this can be a difficult time. People who have experienced losses or who feel lonely may find Christmas to be challenging. Try not to expect too much. Having the "perfect” Christmas or expecting everyone to be on their best behaviour may be unrealistic (headspace Osbourne Park).
4. Manage family conflict
Christmas can bring out family conflict due to reasons like split family or spending time with others you’re not used to seeing often.
Christmas can be tough on split families where Mum and Dad may fight more often which is hard to cope with. Talk with your parents to work out how to split your time over Christmas. This may include spending lunch at one parent’s house and dinner at the other parent’s house or alternating where you will spend Christmas each year.
Spending time with someone who you don’t often see can be tough. Sometimes it can be difficult spending time in a place that you call ‘home’ but doesn’t have all your stuff. Having time out may help you to enjoy your time more. You may want to go for a walk, chill out and listen to some music or call a friend (headspace Osbourne Park).
5. Limit alcohol
Celebrating the festive season can often involve alcohol. Limiting alcoholic beverages during parties and get-togethers is not only great for avoiding those nasty hang-overs but also benefits your mental health. The Australian guidelines recommend that young people under the age of 18 should not drink alcohol, which is the safest option. And if you do plan to have a Christmas drink, try to stick to the guidelines of no more than two standard drinks on any day or no more than four standard drinks on any occasion. If you live with depression or anxiety, it is recommended to avoid alcohol so that your symptoms don’t become worse.
6. Practice mindfulness
As the festive season can be a stressful or a difficult time, practicing mindfulness can help to calm the mind and relax us. Practicing mindfulness is about being in the present moment and helps us to pay attention to our thoughts, feelings and the sensations in our body. Mindfulness helps us to identify when things are getting too much and helps us to not dwell on the past or to worry about the future. Great ways to practice mindfulness include guided meditation, listening to music, breathing activities, colouring in, running, yoga, and more. There are some great free mindfulness apps you can download which include:
7. Spend time outdoors
Spending time in nature is great for your mental health and wellbeing. Several studies have found positive associations between mental health and green space. A recent Queensland University study suggested that people who visit parks for 30 minutes or more per week were less likely to experience poor mental health than those who did not visit parks. Possible benefits for mental health when spending time outdoors includes being more physically active, social connectedness and relationship building, relaxation; and reduced stress and blood pressure. There is a range of different activities to be enjoyed outdoors such as walking the dog, bushwalking, bike riding, having a picnic in the park, going to the beach, and much more. Just remember to use sun protection when venturing outdoors in the sun at its peak sunburn times.
8. Act belong commit
Act Belong Commit is about keeping mentally healthy by being active (socially, mentally and spiritually), having strong social connections and committing to deeper personal pursuits. You can act belong commit over the Christmas period by getting into the Christmas spirit such as decorating your house, wearing something Christmassy or listening to Christmas music while getting others involved. You can try making homemade Christmas present such as decorations or bake something yummy. Find out what Christmas activities are happening near where you live, which you can find out through Facebook or at your local council. Organise a Christmas games night to get family and friends together and you could even get everyone to bring a plate of food. For more ways to act belong commit visit this website https://www.actbelongcommit.org.au/
Please note that the headspace Armadale centre closes over the Christmas period. Click here https://headspace.org.au/headspace-centres/armadale/christmas-closing-hours for our closing dates and additional contacts if you need assistance during this time.