5 ways to support your mental wellbeing during the festive season

This time of year may be filled with celebration – but sometimes there’s more to it. Our partner Beyond Blue shares some tips for supporting your mental health during the festive season.

This time of year can be joyful, but it can also be challenging.

With songs of joy and cheers of merriment, this time of year may be filled with celebration – but sometimes there’s more to it.

“The festive season brings a lot of excitement and joy, but it can also be a stressful time,” says Dr Grant Blashki, Lead Clinical Advisor for Beyond Blue.

Feeling Stressed and experiencing Christmas Anxiety is quite common

You may be feeling stressed, anxious and/or depressed during this time because the Christmas season and New Years can give rise to a crash of multiple stressors. These can include: Environmental stressors like feeling rushed and out of time with having to attend numerous social engagements. Financial Stressors from purchasing gifts, attending events, or even time off work impacting income, and relationship pressures that come with the obligations with family, friends, and loved ones.

To reduce any potential stress and anxiety you might be feeling, we encourage you to plan some ways to make this festive season one that works well for you. We partner with Beyond Blue to connect more people with mental health information, and each other. Here they share some ideas to get you started this holiday season.

1. Start a new tradition

Traditions can help you feel like there is continuity and a sense of connection through family customs, even if they’re simple little rituals that become part of the festive season.

“Humans are social creatures, and there’s something about a celebration and a tradition that helps to form our identities,” Dr Blashki says.

But even if you don’t have family traditions, perhaps you can start some new ones that can make the event special for everyone.

“Things can evolve and values and traditions can change. It’s like if Grandma has always done all the festive cooking, but she’s getting older and everyone now brings a plate,” Dr Blashki explains.

“Financial distress can also be an issue for people at this time of year, so you could start a tradition of presents just for children, or a dollar limit on gifts.”

If you’re keen to change how you and your loved ones celebrate the festive season, consider a new tradition that encourages connection. Dr Blashki suggests, “You might start a new tradition of having everyone put their phones on aeroplane mode for two hours, or pulling out the old photos for the kids to have a laugh at hilarious old hairstyles and fashions.”

2. Remember that self-care isn’t selfish

When you’re thinking about how to make others happy or focused on doing the things others expect, it’s tempting to think of self-care as selfish. This isn’t true.

It’s incredibly important to take care of yourself at any time, and particularly when things are feeling challenging. “Pace yourself: this time of year can be a bit of a marathon. It’s okay to take a bit of a break from it all sometimes,” Dr Blashki says. “So if you’re at a family function and it all feels a bit much, go for a little walk and get some fresh air.”

“See if you can spread the load a bit. If you’re the one doing a lot of the organising, delegate and ask others for help so that it’s not all on you.”

It’s also a time of year when loneliness can hit those of us who aren’t with loved ones, and it’s important to take care of yourself through these feelings. “If you’re going to be on your own during the festive season, try to make a bit of a plan. Maybe make a great music playlist, choose some good movies, make yourself a beautiful food pack