Did you know, one in five Australians are living with a mental health illness?

The Christmas period is a time many people typically spend with families and friends, however for some, this can be an isolating time of year. Those who are unable to see their family or friends or those without a close network, may experience increased feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety over the holiday period.

Furthermore, with the rush to buy presents and attending or hosting several social events, this change to routine can be quite overwhelming, particularly those with existing mental health challenges or mental illness.

It is therefore very important to look after yourself and those around you during this time of year. Below are a few steps to help maintain good mental health during the holiday period:

Take time to look after yourself

Amongst the Christmas parties, and events with friends and family, try to plan some time out and schedule in “me” time that will allow you to be on your own and rejuvenate, helping to prevent you becoming overwhelmed.

This could include:

  • Getting outside for a walk or a swim
  • Reading a book
  • Taking a shower or bath
  • Listening to your favourite music
  • Mediating
  • Any other activities that help you relax

Know your limits

Christmas is often a time for indulging, however it’s important to remember what we eat, and drink impacts how we feel.

Set yourself limits over the “silly season” to avoid excess alcohol intake, where you can, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep.

Be open and ask for help

If you feel like things are getting too much and you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to say you just need to step outside for a few minutes, and importantly – ask for help.

Your friends and family are there to support you. There are also several mental health support services and help lines available throughout the holiday period, and all year round (see the bottom of this blog for more information).

Take a break

The holiday season is the perfect time to take time out of your everyday routine and reflect on the year.

Find time to relax and do things that you don’t normally get the chance to do. This might be going for afternoon walks or spending time with friends you don’t see often. 

Be involved

The Christmas period can be isolating for some. If you are worried about being alone over Christmas, reach out to friends and family.

Community organisations across Australia also host Christmas lunches for people to join who might not have anyone to spend the day with. You could either take part in the lunch or volunteer your time.

Reach out and surround yourself with positive people who will improve your mental health.

Check in with family and friends 

Make sure to check in with those around you. If you know someone who has had a difficult year or living with a mental health illness make sure to keep an eye on them over the holidays.

Reaching out to let them know you are available to talk can have a significant positive impact in their life.

Christmas is a wonderful time to reconnect with friends and family but it is important to check in with yourself and know that it is okay to put yourself first at time particularly when it comes to looking after your mental wellbeing.

Should you suspect that you, or a loved one, may need help, speak to your local healthcare practitioner without delay, or head to www.beyondblue.org.au to access more information and professional support.

Australian mental health support services offering 24/7 helpline services include:

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

LifeLine: 13 11 14

Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800.