With all the hype and expectations that inevitably arise during the run up to Christmas, the season of goodwill can easily turn into the season of great stress. Judi Clements, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation says, “At this time of the year the pressure really goes on at work and at home, so it’s really important for people to look after their mental health and reduce the rise in physical and emotional demands.” The Mental Health Foundation offers the following 12 tips to help you survive Christmas stress:
On the first day of Christmas
Decide how you would like to celebrate Christmas this year. If an elaborate meal, and a house full of relatives and guests aren’t your idea of a perfect day, maybe this is the year to make some changes.
On the second day of Christmas
Plan and agree with family members and friends where you will go, what presents you will buy, and what sort of food you will have.
On the third day of Christmas
Keep spending in proportion. It’s not good for your mental health to start the New Year worrying about how to get back into the black.
On the fourth day of Christmas
Avoid the Christmas crowds. Unless you thrive on crowded shops and queues, try to shop at quieter times. It may be worth taking a day’s annual leave before Christmas to use the time to cross things off your Christmas list.
On the fifth day of Christmas
Take time out each day for some relaxation – Get a massage, pamper yourself or read a bit of your favourite book to unwind.
On the sixth day of Christmas
Get moving – physical activity lifts your mood and can reduce stress. Walk outdoors, dance at Christmas parties, or go for a swim. Make the most of our beaches, parks and gardens and get out into the natural environment.
On the seventh day of Christmas
Remember others. With 47% of New Zealanders experiencing a mental illness at some point in their life, there is bound to be someone on your Christmas card list who is not feeling festive. Give them a call. The support of friends can be really helpful, so stay in touch.
On the eighth day of Christmas
Monitor your drinking. This is the time of year when the booze begins to flow. Too much alcohol can make you irritable, tired, affect relationships and add to depression.
On the ninth day of Christmas
Don’t drive when you’re tired, stressed or have been drinking. Know where the ‘dial-a-driver’ services are or make sure you have a designated driver.
On the 10th day of Christmas
Stress can contribute to mental health problems such as depression and sometimes grief for loved ones who are not with us at Christmas can emerge. If you are vulnerable to stress or are close to someone who is, make sure you have someone you trust to talk to and phone numbers for support such as Lifeline, Youthline or the depression support line – 0800 111 757.
On the 11th day of Christmas
Don’t be lonely. If you will be alone this Christmas why not find out about community activities and get-togethers in your local area? There may be volunteering opportunities in hospitals or rest homes where Christmas is a shared event. This can be a way of being with others at Christmas and helping at the same time.
On the 12th day of Christmas
Have fun! Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you’re having a family gathering and you know that some people don’t see eye to eye, be realistic and minimise conflict. Try not to put pressure on yourself to keep everyone happy. Christmas is for everyone and that includes you!
If you or someone you know is experiencing stress or depression you may like to call:
- The depression support line on 0800 111 757
- Lifeline on 0800 543 354
- Youthline on 0800 376 633