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by Kat Rowe | December 6, 2023

A guide to managing mental health at Christmas

The festive season is a time of joy, celebration and togetherness, however, for many, it can be a difficult time for managing mental health. 

At Stride, we understand the pressures and expectations that form anxiety and feelings of distress. Read on to find our tips for managing your mental health this holiday season.

Making the holidays a little less lonely

For some, as the holiday season approaches, feelings of isolation may be commonly felt, making the holidays a challenging time for many. 

According to statistics from The Salvation Army, 36% of Australians feel lonely and isolated during the holiday season.

In a particularly challenging time for some, it’s important to prioritise self-care and reach out to those closest to you during this time – whether it be a friend, a neighbour, or professional help if needed. 

Remember that you are not alone, and taking proactive steps and reaching out for help when needed, can help make the holiday season more fulfilling.

Understanding holiday stress

Christmas comes with a flurry of activities – from gift shopping to family gatherings, and social events. 

Financial strain, social obligations, and the busyness of the festive season can contribute to heightened stress levels.

If you are experiencing financial stress during the holiday season, set a clear and realistic budget that is doable for your personal financial situation. Consider homemade gifts, and clearly communicate with those around you. Remember that the holidays aren’t just about gift-giving. 

For some, the pressure to create a perfect celebration can often be overwhelming. For others who find themselves alone at Christmas time, it can be a time of feeling isolated and sad.

The toll of these stresses on mental health can present themselves in many different ways. Anxiety and depression can intensify, and feelings of loneliness and inadequacy can become more pronounced.

Strategies for nurturing mental health these holidays

Through the whirlwind of festive activities, it’s crucial to prioritise your mental health. We’ve compiled a few strategies to help nurture your wellbeing:

Set realistic expectations

It’s important to understand that perfection is difficult to obtain. Instead, focus on setting achievable and realistic goals for yourself, whether it be gift-giving, decorating or hosting events. 

Remember to be kind to yourself and know your limitations.

Create a personal safety plan

Develop a list of coping strategies or activities that bring comfort during challenging times. Include people you trust in your support network, and who you can reach out to when needed. 

It can be beneficial to recognise triggers that cause you to feel stressed or anxious. Take a moment to pause and consider what may have caused these feelings, followed by activities or moments that make you feel good.

Prioritise self-care

Remember to take time for yourself amidst the Christmas chaos. Whether it’s a quiet moment with a book, a bit of gentle exercise in a way that feels good for your body, or a relaxing bath. 

Be sure to prioritise activities that make you happy, and bring you peace. These can include finding joy in the little moments, practising gratitude,  and taking a moment to focus on breathwork.

Establish healthy boundaries

It’s ok to say no. It’s equally ok to ask for help when needed. Recognise your limits, and be sure to focus on activities that align with your wellbeing. 

Importance of a strong support system

Building a support system is crucial during challenging times. Surround yourself with understanding friends and family (if that’s available to you) who provide emotional support. 

Try sharing your feelings openly and allow others to support you in maintaining a healthy mental state.

Seeking professional help

If the holiday season brings up feelings of despair, it’s important to seek professional help. 

At Stride, we provide a range of services – helping you get connected to help you need, when you need it. 

Remember that your mental health is a priority, and it’s ok to put yourself first during the holiday season.

By implementing nurturing strategies, cultivating a strong support system, and seeking professional help where needed.

Nurture your wellbeing these holidays

If you, or someone you know need mental health support these holidays, we’re here to help. Get in touch with us to get connected with the support you need, when you need it these holidays. 

If you are in need of emergency support, please reach out to one of the following crisis support lines: 

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636.

LifeLine – 13 11 14

Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800 

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