For someone with a mental illness, the holiday season could present a lot of challenges

From stress over buying gifts, to dealing with large crowds, crazy traffic, and attending family events – the festive season isn’t always a joyous occasion.

Things like family tensions, excessive alcohol consumption, poor food choices, loneliness, isolation and money worries can sometimes make people feel worse.

To aid in supporting your mental health in the festive period, there are some small tasks that may help you maintain a balanced mindset.

  1. Be organised

Tackling Christmas can seem daunting if you’re thinking about all of your upcoming expenses at once. You could try breaking down your expenditures ahead of time and buying things that fit well within with your budget. You could also suggest a Secret Santa with family and friends to alleviate the financial stressors associated with buying presents. Alternatively, you could suggest setting a maximum price that everyone is allowed to spend on gifts to avoid over spending.

  1. Plan ahead

Clearly map out what you know you can mentally handle during festive season, and be strict with yourself on following through. Whether it’s events, things you’re spending money on, or time you’re spending in the company of others, be sure to do whatever it takes to ensure you make it out the other side of “silly season” relatively unscathed. Know your limits and make sure you enforce them.

  1. Don’t go overboard

Not enough sleep and too much alcohol can send just about anyone over the edge, and for those with mental health issues, can be a trigger for anxiety and depression. Scheduling in some personal time and getting in a good night’s rest might save you from having a negative flare up, so it’s important to look after yourself.

  1. Be involved

Some people might become “orphaned” during Christmas season for a variety of reasons, which can add to feelings of isolation. If you know you’re going to be spending time alone, reach out to friends and family by phone, email or social media. There are community organisations across the country that host a Christmas lunch that are normally welcome for anyone to join in. You could either take part or offer to volunteer some of your time. Either way, try to reach out and surround yourself with cheery people who will help put a smile on your dial. Paying it forward will not only help others out, but might be beneficial to your own mental health as well.