Christmas and the holiday season can be stressful in the very best circumstances. There is the pressure to buy the perfect gifts for family and friends, organising food for Christmas lunch or dinner, decorating the house, organising time off of work, planning school holiday activities. Things can quickly begin to feel hectic and overwhelming.
In a year that has brought us unprecedented levels of drama and uncertainty, how can you prevent and manage the escalated levels of stress this holiday season?
We spoke to health professionals at Health Share to get a better understanding about the types of pressure Australians are facing ahead of this holiday season and some useful strategies to manage it.
GP Dr Angela Tjeuw, said generally, those most at risk of feeling overwhelmed and stressed each year at Christmas are those families who were experiencing bereavement, those recently separated or divorced or facing any kind of family conflict and families experiencing financial hardships.
2020 specifically was having a major impact on many people. Not only do we have to consider the financial implications of job losses or reduced income due to COVID-19, we also have to consider that sadly, many people have lost loved ones to the virus. Also at risk of stress and depression this year are the elderly population who rely on visitors to aged care facilities from family and friends. This year, the restrictions on visits to these facilities has added to the stress. It is vital they have a way to stay in contact with loved ones and so things such as voice or video chats and photos would be essential to keep spirits up.
Overall, Dr Tjeuwsay urges us to remember the community at large has been feeling an increase in stress levels and so it is important to recognise this and really try to lower our expectations of Christmas.
When looking at strategies to reduce stress, she suggests exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep as the core ways to stay healthy and happy.
If additional help is needed, seek advice as soon as possible. Speak to your GP or health professional, reach out to family and friends so you don't feel isolated. Your GP can help with counselling, treatment and a GP mental health care plan which will enable you to have subsidized visits with a psychologist to assist you through these difficult times.
Don't delay in seeking help if you feel that you need it and be kind to yourself and one another. We are dealing with unprecedented times.
If you or someone you know feels like they need help and additional support to talk things through. They can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.