Coping with the pressures of Christmas

Author:
Georgia Ash, Mates4Mates Psychological Services Manager
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Although Christmas is often a time to celebrate, many people find the holiday season stressful. Just the expectation that one should be ‘merry’ or ‘jolly’ over the festive season is enough for a person to feel stressed and overwhelmed during this time.

Christmas puppy
 
We know that there are a number of reasons why people become stressed over this period. This might be because you feel that you should be happy and stress-free when you’re not, or you feel pressure to make a change or have a New Year’s resolution.

Sometimes not being able to attend Christmas social events or be with those you care about can also cause distress, or if you are grieving the recent loss of a friend or family member. This often translates into guilt for surviving when others may not have and can result in being apprehensive about the holiday period.

If you experience one or more of these stressors, it is likely that you may identify with some emotions including anxiety, nervousness, feeling down or depressed, loneliness and isolation, feeling overwhelmed and like everything is too much, and irritability or anger.

Keep in mind that these emotions are completely normal, and commonly occur during this time of the year.
Physically, you may also notice that you eat more, drink more alcohol, smoke more, or increase the amount to cope. These behaviours may make you feel better at the time, but they only work for a short time. As a result, you may notice that you actually feel worse than you did before.

It’s important to put steps in place before Christmas to help you get through. If feelings persist after the Christmas period, remember that a Mates4Mates psychologist can help. Whether you live local to a Family Recovery Centre (FRC) or afar, you can access a Mates4Mates psychologist either in person or via Skype or phone.

Call Mates4Mates on 1300 4 MATES to make an enquiry and book an appointment.

Mates4Mates is an initiative of RSL Queensland.
 

Our top tips:

  • Have someone you can call. This might be to talk about an issue you are struggling with or just to talk about other things and feel connected.
  • Write down your feelings as this can help you to feel less weighed down.
  • Call a 24-hour help service if you are feeling highly distressed (refer to the 24-hour services).
  • Accept invitations – you will feel better with others rather than staying at home and focusing on your problems.
  • Continue any hobbies or exercise that you usually do.
  • At times of stress, use a self-coping strategy.
  • Sign up to a free reputable site such as Smiling Minds or the AT EASE program for PTSD to help you manage stress and improve your quality of life.
 

Where to find help:

24-hour services
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
  • Open Arms (previously VVCS) 1800 011 046
  • Australian Defence Health All-hours Support Line 1800 628 036
  • Visit your local hospital accident and emergency department
If you or someone you know is in danger, go to your nearest hospital. If it is an emergency call 000.
 
Other helpful services