For many people, the festive season is something they look forward to. It means celebrating and exchanging gifts with loved ones and eating too much Christmas ham. For many others however, Christmas can be a very stressful and lonely time of year. Financial strain, family conflict, loneliness, and travel bans are just a few of the many reasons some people won’t be looking forward to the festive season this year.
Listed below are a few strategies to help you deal with the feelings you might be faced with in the lead up to or during the holiday period.
Firstly, if you know someone who you suspect might be feeling lonely or anxious in next month or two, reach out to them. Show them you’re there for them by inviting them to a celebration or giving them a call. Just knowing you’re thinking of them might be enough to make their day. Although we’re all very busy during this time, it’s important to make time to check up on people who you think might really need it.
It can be tough to spend the festive season alone when so many others are spending it with family members. Planning ahead is a good way of making sure you’re distracted, and your mind is occupied with other activities. Plan out your schedule for each day, adding in even the small tasks like morning coffee, post office, and going to the dog park. Ensure you have something going on every day that excites you or makes you happy. One day you might aim to teach your dog a trick, the next you might begin an online course, go for a bushwalk, go to a museum, go Christmas light looking, get experimental in the kitchen, or take a trip to the bookstore and purchase a new book.
The festive season can be a very costly time of year. If you’re worried about coping financially with all the gift giving, remember that sometimes the most precious gifts are the ones that don’t cost anything at all. A babysitting, house cleaning or car washing voucher are all things you can give to someone to show them you care, without spending any money. A homemade scrapbook, photo album, boardgame, or recipe book filled with the recipient’s favourite meals are all sentimental, thoughtful gifts your loved one will really appreciate. You could also gift them a day of fun, outlining a day filled with activities for you and them to do on a day of their choice.
For many families, getting together at Christmas can often result in conflict. Although it may sometimes be impossible to avoid entirely, there are steps you can take to prepare for it. A lot of the time family conflict is predictable, so understanding the manner in which the conflict normally escalates can be helpful is knowing how to avoid it. It may also be helpful to plan activities for the day such backyard cricket or bocci to ensure everyone is distracted and having fun. Limiting alcohol is another way of lessening the chances of an argument.
Christmas can be tough for those who have lost someone. Doing something each year in honour of that person is a nice way to acknowledge them and their memory. You could light a candle, put an ornament on the tree, or eat their favourite food on Christmas Day as a way of remembering them.
There are so many people that experience these sort of feelings during this time of year, and it can be helpful to reach out to others for support. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone you know, Beyond Blue have a 24 hour call service 1300 224 636, an online chat service, and online forums available for anyone to use.