While Christmas time is traditionally seen as a time of family, sharing, laughter and love for many, it can often be filled with difficulty, loneliness, isolation and depression for others. For those experiencing mental illness, this time of year can be far more difficult to deal with than most.
Consider that, for those who find the day to day difficult enough as it is, the added pressure of Christmas brings with it additional spends that could impact a tight budget, additional parties for those dealing with addictions, and spending time with family and friends for those who are just not in the right headspace to endure these things. It is estimated that 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health issue at some point; imagine what kinds of additional strain periods like Christmas may place on that person.
Wonderful organisations like Beyond Blue commit to providing additional support to people in need over this period in order to help those who are feeling alone, alienated or ‘orphaned’ (for many reasons) to get the connection and assistance that they need.
What kind of pressures exist for people this time of year?
- Financial pressures; not being able to afford gifts, or the basics, or finding themselves homeless.
- Alienation; social gathers where you feel left out, or were not even invited, or not having family and friends to share with.
- Feeling ‘Disconnected’ from Christmas; how can it be a period of ‘joy’ and ‘love’ when you’re feeling nothing but ‘sadness’ and ’emptiness’?
- Painful memories; reflection on past painful times, or feeling the grief and loss of missing people who are no longer here.
Here are some tips to help make things a little easier this Christmas time.
- Christmas doesn’t mean having to say yes to everything that you do. Ensure that you spend a moment to identify what Christmas means to you and only do the activities that provide you with some meaning and enjoyment.
- Christmas can often see people overspend unnecessarily. Make a budget around how much you can spend and stick within that amount. Presents do not have to be expensive to be meaningful and heartfelt. In my family, we no longer bring presents for everyone but prefer to do a playful Kris Kringle with a $20 limit and turn it into a fun game.
- Christmas can be a time where we eat too much and drink too much. Take a moment to be mindful of how much food and alcohol we’re consuming so that we can ensure we don’t gain too much weight or place ourselves in uncomfortable and potentially risky situations through excessive drinking.
- If there is one gift you can give yourself immediately, it is learning how to notice the signs of stress and anxiety we may experience and being able to learn deep breathing exercises to calm us down and mindfulness to make us more capable of reducing the impact these inevitable emotions may have on our lives.
- As Kylie would say, ‘better the devil you know’. Christmas doesn’t mean difficult family and friends suddenly become saints. Know what you’re dealing with and manage the expectation. Don’t engage in silly games that could blow up situations and set clear boundaries around what is and what is not acceptable. If you know what kind of discussions or questions may come around, have a friendly, ‘Christmas appropriate’ response ready.
- This can be an incredibly busy time of year so make sure you include time for yourself and do something that brings you joy. Read a book. Go for a walk. Enjoy the sun. Go to the beach. For many people, especially introverts, that time away to be able to recharge is critically important to ensure they don’t run themselves to the ground. If necessarily, block out the week and schedule in time just for YOU.
- If you have a lot on, make sure you delegate. Make sure you communicate. Make sure you know that it is ok to ask for help. Make sure you know how to say ‘no’ if you feel the need to always say ‘yes’. As the old saying goes, ‘if you say yes to this, what are you saying no to?’ You’re most likely saying ‘no’ to some downtime for yourself, or ‘no’ to the peace of mind that comes with knowing requests are being distributed fairly.
- This time of year inevitably leads to reflection; Christmas seems to promote that as does the changing of the year. It can be easy to focus on all of the bad things that have happened, especially with a year like 2016. However, learning to focus on some of the positive things that have happened along side them can help to reduce the anxiety and stress as well as reinforcing the idea that things can change, things won’t always be this way and that sometimes things will turn out much better than expected.
- Random acts of kindness have been shown make us happier, improve relationships, slow aging, is good for the heart and, most importantly, is contagious. Consider how random acts of kindness could make your Christmas better. Paying it forward can lift not only your spirit of giving this Christmas but help others too.
- Most importantly of all, if you need help, if you need to talk, if you feel that the mood is not shifting and you’re feeling dangerously low, reach out and talk to someone. There are many organisations out there who work over the Christmas period to ensure everyone gets the help that they need. Now, that is something to be thankful for.
This year has been a tough year indeed. Not just on the global stage but for many people personally, including myself. I am grateful for the lessons that this year has offered to me, no matter how difficult and hard they have been to experience. That gratitude comes out of acceptance, knowing that I can only respond to them in a meaningful way – I could never change them. It doesn’t mean that I have to like them; I can even hate them because some of those lessons involved loss of loved ones that I’ll never have back, however these are outside of our control. How we respond to those events and circumstances is what is important and I am grateful that I have had them in my life and I am grateful for that connection that we have and I am grateful that they felt loved. I am also grateful that I am reminded of how fragile and short life can be and that it reminds me to constantly be the best version of myself that I can be and to accept each day with what opportunities it has to show.
We won’t always have happy days but then logic also dictates that we won’t always have sad days too. I am grateful that this year taught me to be appreciative of the good and the bad and the lessons both have to offer and the range of the emotions there are to experience because they do, indeed, make us human.
To everyone reading this, who has supported me and Release Hypnosis over the past 12 months, a heartfelt thank you to you. My wish for you is that 2017 brings you more happy days than sad, more growth than feeling stuck, more joy than sorrow, more connection than disconnection, more understanding than apathy and more experiences that make your life truly wonderful.
If I can be of assistance to anyone with their goals and changes in the new year, please feel free to contact me and come in to meet me for a free half hour consultation where you can ask me any questions about how I work and determine if I’m the right option for you.
You might also like to read:
How to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions – Getting Ready for Jan 1st
Goodbye 2016: The Year of Change
Being OK With Not Being OK
Why Bother? It’s Going To Be Crap Anyway.