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Surviving Christmas 2019

Christmas: It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”, at least according to all the Christmas carols you’re likely hearing around town. Despite this, Christmas can be a really tough time for a lot of people. Whether or not you’re getting together with the family, sharing it with friends, working, or spending it alone, it can be a stressful, lonely, or anxiety-inducing time of year. Once again, we’ve put together a holiday survival guide to help you beat the blues and enjoy Christmas in 2019.

One of the most stressful aspects of the holiday season is FOMO, or ‘fear of missing out’. FOMO affects many of us at Christmas time because of all the holiday get-togethers we’re expected to attend for work, friends and family. The trouble is, it can be difficult to make it to everything. Or worse yet, if you’re not feeling particularly festive, just the idea of attending so many events can be nauseating. Unfortunately, the fear of missing out on something can have us scrambling to say ‘yes’ to too many things, overcommitting, and burning ourselves out.

FOMO is contributed to by social media, as we tend to scroll through photos and updates about all the fun everyone else is having. To avoid FOMO, keep your own mental health in mind, and only commit to one or two events – however many you can comfortably attend without over-extending yourself – and reassure yourself that your time spent resting and recuperating is just as important as your time spent socialising.

As we discussed in our last blog about How to Use Social Media to Feel Better, there are both downsides and upsides to social media use. Used carefully and mindfully, it can actually inspire and excite you – but used without the proper care, can cause FOMO, or worse. Limit your social media use over the festive season to avoid slipping down the rabbit hole of comparing yourself to others. Remember: Everyone is showing their highlights reel on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. It’s not an accurate or full picture of anyone’s life.

Is your number one new year’s resolution always to lose weight and get healthy? Instead of throwing caution to the wind, only to wind up regretting it come January, take a little time to consider your eating and drinking choices this holiday season. Sure, there are loads of festive treats to be tucking into at those parties, but that doesn’t mean you need to overindulge. When you’re at home, be mindful about the food that you’re preparing, and be sure to be a little careful about what you consume at festive functions. Not only will you feel better in the new year, you’ll also give yourself more stamina to make it through the hectic holiday season! One of the best ways to keep your holiday junk food consumption to a minimum when there’s so much temptation around is to carry a bottle of water with you everywhere – and remember to drink it, refill it, and drink it again! The better hydrated you are, the less likely you are to overindulge, and the better you’ll feel – now and later!

One of the first things to go out the window during the Christmas period is your self-care routine. From your regular workouts to your morning yoga – it’s easy to let this busy time get in the way of the things that make you feel grounded, happy and healthy. To avoid this, keep a diary and schedule in your self-care practices, ‘me time’ and workouts around your parties, working hours and other commitments. Writing it down will not only help you to remember, but will make you much more likely to follow through on your commitment to yourself.

Are you planning on starting a new ‘get fit’ regime in the new year? Or maybe you’re going to start learning a new skill, finally clear out that cluttered spare room and turn it into a hobby room, or start looking for a new job? Whatever you’ve got planned for the new year, why not get started now? If you find Christmas a stressful time, having a goal to focus on can be helpful. What’s more, when you’re facing all of those once-a-year gatherings with relatives who tend to ask “So, what have you been up to?” you can be prepared with some great news about your new endeavour!

Loneliness can be one of the most difficult parts of getting through the holidays. Even those of us with family and friends nearby can find ourselves feeling lonely or isolated at Christmas time. Considering there’s so much pressure to ‘be merry’ and get into the festive spirit, it’s no wonder that it can be too much sometimes. If you’re feeling lonely or isolated during the holiday season, don’t assume that you’re alone or that others won’t understand. Reach out to a family member, a friend, a colleague, or even another mum or dad at school who might be willing to sit down, have a coffee and lend an ear. You will probably be surprised to find that most other people are feeling a little overwhelmed at this time of the year too. Sharing your feelings with someone will lighten the load and help you to feel less lonely and isolated.

Did you know that self-harm and suicide rates jump significantly immediately after the Christmas period? This comes down to several factors, but isolation, debt anxiety, and post-holiday blues are some of the major factors. That’s why it’s so important to consider your mental health during the holidays and start building your support network. If you suffer from anxiety or depression especially, now is an important time to make your mental health a priority and start getting some expert assistance. Your counsellor can not only help you to manage the stress that comes with Christmas time, but can set you up to head into the new year with support, strategies and goals for a great 2020!

One of the most effective ways to support your own mental health is to focus on your physical health – that’s why we offer a range of programs which aim to support you to overcome hurdles, create goals, and incorporate your fitness. We offer a range of services which can help you tackle Christmas 2019 and get ready for the year ahead, including:

Get in touch today to start your Christmas 2019 survival plan and look forward to a happy festive season and a wonderful 2020.

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen