As Christmas can be a time of the year that proves very emotionally difficult for many people I have asked Hailee Walker, a relationships counsellor from Couples HQ what she recommends would be 5 tips to help make this time of the year a little better - I hope there are some points here you find useful.
The themes that surround Christmas time are hope, faith and joy. What happens when you feel like there is no Merry in your Christmas or happy in your holidays? How does one get through this time of year when they have personal challenges that seem to make happiness and joy almost impossible to find?
If this time of year is difficult for you, I want to reassure you that you are not alone. Christmas time can highlight the struggles that we are facing more than any other time of the year. Perhaps you are mourning the loss of a loved one, suffering from depression or anxiety, or even illness. All of these experiences and many more can seem crushing at this time of year.
So, how do you survive? Here are five tips that could help you get through this holiday season.
1. Make plans in advance. It is a good idea to get out your calendar and make your plans in advance. Schedule in your commitments, be it family lunches, Christmas parties and also time to yourself. Be as specific as possible. If you know ahead of time what you are doing, it can relieve the anxiety as you can prepare yourself. It is healthy to put boundaries around your time. For example, you may have a work Christmas party that you are dreading but you are obligated to go to. You might like to set some boundaries around the event. You could go for only two hours and not drink so you can drive home.
2. Connect. Find someone in your life that you can connect with. Someone you can trust. Talk to them and share with them how you are feeling. It’s okay not to be okay! The support from a family member, friend, Doctor or Mental Health Professional may just be the key to helping you through this season.
3. Say “Yes”. When you are struggling emotionally it is easy to shut out the world. Sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is being social. Why not try to say “yes” to at least one invitation. It is beneficial for us to interact with others. You never know, you might actually enjoy yourself a little.
4. Give. There is nothing that can help you feel better about yourself then doing a good deed. Is there someone in your life that could use a little Christmas joy? Perhaps you have an elderly neighbour that is lonely and would relish the chance to have chat over the fence? Is there a local charity that needs some help or items that you could donate? Sometimes when we take the time to shift our focus onto another person in need it can do wonders for our own needs.
5. Take care of yourself. Sounds like a no brainer, right? However in the business of the silly season we often forget to look after ourselves. When we are struggling emotionally or mentally we need more self-care. Be sure to get an appropriate amount of sleep, eat healthy and nutritious meals, limit your alcohol and sugar consumption. Get some fresh air and gentle exercise each day and remember to take some calming deep breaths
If you are having a difficult time dealing with emotions and thought patterns help is available. You are not alone. Please go and see your GP or a mental health professional. If in Australia you can call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636