The holiday period can be a really difficult time for managing your mental health. It’s important to have strategies on hand to help you get through.
If you’re finding you need a bit of extra support during this time, here are MOST’s top tips on how to get through the holiday period:
Think about your potential holiday triggers and write them down. Make a plan to address these triggers with strategies and tools. Things you can add to your plan include:
- What strategies can you use to manage if things get tough?
- Do you have any tools that help you feel calmer?
- Is there someone you could call if you need to debrief?
If you feel comfortable, share your plan with a supportive person ahead of time.
Get-togethers can be challenging situations for many people, especially over the holiday period.
So how do you avoid those unwelcome conversations or prepare for any uncomfortable encounters?
Some strategies to get out of tricky situations include:
If there are topics that are sensitive to you, and you have someone that you feel comfortable sharing them with, write them down and have your trusted person help divert the conversation if it starts to head in that direction.
Have a list of conversation topics and redirect the conversation yourself to a more comfortable topic, if you think things are getting tense.
Use a code word and let someone you feel comfortable with know what it means. This can be a way to excuse yourself if you’re starting to feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom or find somewhere to take a breather. Taking a few minutes away to take some deep breaths or use other tools that help you in times of stress can be helpful.
It’s important to schedule in some time to do things that help you feel more grounded, particularly in the lead up to, or after a stressful day.
Make time for things you enjoy, before and after a stressful situation. This might include things like having a bubble bath, going for a walk, listening to music you like, spending time in nature, or just resting without committing to anything!
There’s often a stronger focus on food over the holidays, which can bring up feelings of guilt and a lot of body insecurities.
To look after our physical and mental health during the holiday period, it’s important to remind ourselves about what a healthy relationship with food looks like.
We can write this down somewhere to have on hand when we find difficult thoughts arising.
In general, a healthy relationship with food involves:
- Seeing food as just food. Not labelling it as good or bad.
- Remembering that food is just one part of a balanced life.
- Eating different foods for different reasons.
- Eating food to celebrate, socialise, and for comfort.
- Eating food to nourish and fuel our bodies.
If you’re finding it difficult to remember these things over the holiday period, you can speak to a trusted person or professional (like a MOST clinician or your GP) to help build a plan and feel supported around your eating.
If we’re used to seeing people almost every day, whether it’s at work, school, uni or TAFE, the holidays can feel lonely.
Keeping in regular contact with positive and supportive people can keep us feeling well.
Think about who and what gives you energy. Make plans in advance to keep in contact with those people, if you can.
If you’re worried about feeling lonely, and you don’t have anyone to reach out to, speak to a MOST clinician about support options during the break.
Be kind to yourself and try to respect what you need.
The holidays can be hard. It’s ok if you’re not your regular self, if you need extra time and space to de-stress, and if you find that your holiday period looks different to others.
Look after yourself as much as you can by planning time for you and remind yourself that it’s ok to not be ok.
Take the holidays into your own hands and make some of your own plans to celebrate.
This can help you enjoy the holidays on your own terms and find ways to celebrate that are meaningful to you.
Have a think about the things you value and try to schedule in some time to do those things.
If you value friends and chosen family, you could schedule an event for those people in your life. If you value giving back, you could try volunteering. Or, if you value creativity, you could try baking something or doing some crafts.
If the holiday period is challenging for you, know that this time will pass and with some strategies on hand and some support, you can get through it.