We’ve all had a full-on year and the last thing we need is a stressful holiday season.
Follow our guide to cast off stress and worry so you can enjoy the present moment and the people who matter most to you.
Say “ho, ho, no” to overspending
Christmas can be expensive. Forking out for presents, festive dinners with all the trimmings, trees and baubles often leaves a lot of Australians struggling to keep up with regular bills and mortgages.
The best thing to do is either start saving early in the year or spend less with clever low-cost alternatives. For example:
- Only buy presents for the kids
- Organise a Secret Santa present swap for the grown ups
- Ask everyone to bring a food dish to share
- Have a barbecue or picnic in the park or at the beach
- Get crafty and make your own decorations
If you’ve already spent more than you planned, set a Christmas budget for next year and divide it by 52 so you can start saving that amount each week.
Eat what you want to eat
You shouldn't feel guilty for treating yourself to a hearty helping of food on Christmas day. However, you may enjoy your food even more if you selectively choose the food you’re most excited about eating.
- Ask yourself what you most want to eat at that moment
- Pay attention to the food's colour, texture and smell
- How would you describe the taste?
- Do you like it?
This deliberate way of eating — known as the mindful approach to eating — increases your satisfaction after a meal. And it can reduce emotional or binge-eating habits.
It can also help you stabilise your weight, banish thoughts of ‘burning off the calories later’ and give your mood and self-esteem a nice boost.
You’ll also avoid that over-full feeling—and you can eat the leftovers the next day!
Stay on top of your drinking
If you’d like to avoid a hangover or doing or saying things you regret the next day, follow these 5 simple ways to curb your alcohol intake:
- Decide ahead of time when you’ll start and stop drinking and how much you’ll drink — and try to stick to your plan.
- Drink alcohol alternatives in between alcoholic drinks, such as soft drink, water or mocktails.
- Eat before you drink — a healthy meal beforehand and snacks in between slows alcohol absorption and helps you stay in control.
- Pace yourself — avoid drinking in rounds as this makes you drink more and faster than you intend to.
- Don't let anyone top up your glass before you’ve finished your drink — this can make it hard to keep track of how much alcohol you’ve had.
Avoid family dramas
Families don’t always get along. Throw separation, divorce or unresolved conflict into the mix, and Christmas day can be tense to say the least! Tensions may already be running high because of the stress of organising the day.
- Throw out expectations — things rarely go to plan. It’s okay to say no to things you feel obligated to do, in order to reduce stress and keep things enjoyable.
- Avoid triggers— today’s not the day to bring up topics that your family has a history of arguing about or try to resolve a long-standing tension.
- Distance yourself— consider situating yourself away from family members you have a tense relationship with. Don’t ignore them, just keep some space between you.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol (or have too much on hand) — it can contribute to unwanted behaviour and loosen tongues!
- Lighten the mood—bust out the Christmas crackers and read out the daggy jokes to get everyone laughing, play some holiday games or watch a heart-warming holiday movie.
- Put yourself first—it’s okay to avoid an event if it’s going to cause you too much stress and anxiety, or to excuse yourself after only a few hours.
Speak to our mental health team to learn more about managing conflicts and tricky relationships.
Chase away loneliness
The holidays can be a lonely time if you’re spending them on your own. Especially Christmas and New Year's Eve. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make it amazing for yourself, no matter what.
- Plan to be around other people. That could mean attending a festive lunch at a church or community centre or going to the local carols-by-candlelight event.
- A simple phone or video call can make you feel connected to loved ones separated by distance. It’s a nice idea to call friends you know are spending the holidays alone.
- Helping others can make you feel warm and fuzzy, so why not volunteer with a charity or church group or soup kitchen around Christmas time.
- Distract yourself. Put on some music in the backyard and do some gardening, watch your favourite holiday movies, or spend time with your pets.
- Reminding yourself it’s just another day can help take the pressure off.
Look after yourself
The lead up to Christmas can be busy and stressful or bring up feelings of isolation and loss. Jut don't forget to take care of yourself!
Here are a few self-care strategies to help you find calm among the chaos.
Get organised: It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed when you’ve got a lot to do to get ready for the holidays. To-do lists with deadlines can help you stay on track and feel less anxious.
Move your body: A brisk 15 to 20 minute walk can help your body release feel-good endorphins. If you’re unable to go for a walk, you could try an online yoga video. Routines can easily go out of the window when you’re juggling the many things on your to do list.
Breathe: When stress and anxiety levels rise, your breathing can get faster. Calm your mind and reduce muscle tension by slowing your breathing down and taking a few deep breaths.
Try the ‘square breathing’ method; inhale slowly to the count of four, then exhale slowly to the count of four.
Take time out: Doing something you enjoy can help reduce anxiety and stress. Reading a book, calling a friend, or listening to your favourite music may all help you feel calmer.
Scheduling regular ‘me time’ is a good way to nurture your mental health.
Eat well: It can be tempting to feast on all the treat at this time of year, but maintaining healthy, nutritious eating habits (including plenty of wholegrains, fresh fruits and veggies) gives you the mental and physical energy you need to get through the long days.
Sleep well: Sleep plays a crucial role in your physical and mental health. Make sure you get enough sleep by sticking to your normal bedtime and bedtime routine.
Talk about it: Talking to friends, family or a health professional like a counsellor or your GP can make you feel heaps better when you feel anxious or overwhelmed.
Inspiro has counsellors and psychologists who can give you strategies to cope, take control and feel better again.