Christmas is not far off and it’s easy to get caught up in the swing of things and forget about looking after ourselves.
The holiday season can be particularly tough for people with mental health concerns and the stress of relationships at this time can have a significant impact on how well we manage the flow of family visits, food, holiday silliness and general wellbeing.
Even though Christmas can be an awesome and love filled time for many of us, it can also be a very challenging and anxiety filled time. Sane Australia says that over 690,000 Australians live with complex mental illness (CMI) and that at least 45% of Australians will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. At least 20% of adults will experience mental health issues every year and these statistics don’t just affect the person with the illness, but can affect at least another five people in that person’s personal life.
So when it comes to the holiday season it is vital that we take some time to prepare in advance so that we are less likely to see a spike in our own mental health issues.
Following are just a few things to consider planning for. Over the coming weeks, I will dive a bit deeper into each topic leading up to Christmas.
Be Okay with Being a Party Pooper
Make sure that you know what kind of parties you plan to attend. If healthy eating and careful alcohol consumption are going to be an issue, it might be worth rethinking those parties and going to ones that have a healthier attitude to kicking up your heels and having fun.
Limit or eliminate alcohol use. Generally speaking, if you already take medication of any sort, you should be diligent about alcohol consumption and this is even more crucial if you take psychometric drugs to stabilise your mental health.
Alcohol has a unique effect on each person so it is important to ensure you know how much you can handle or if you can not handle it at all, keep yourself away from environments where the temptation is too great.
Set Healthy Boundaries with Family
Keeping the peace with family can be difficult at Christmas. People are excited but also tired, with many of us travelling long distances to connect with family who we otherwise see little of.
Old sibling rivalries can rise up causing unnecessary tensions felt by everyone and the competition to provide the best presents can wreak havoc on an otherwise civilised and loving group of people.
- Think about the boundaries that matter to you and that you use in your everyday life to manage your long-term wellness and be intentional about maintaining those boundaries during the holiday season.
- If need be, speak with your family and share your boundaries. Being proactive and showing your family that you are taking solid steps to look after your health are important steps to indicating your intentions to stay well.
Being clear is often more respected than when we make assumptions that others already know our limitations.
Recognise Early Signs of Stress and Psychological Fatigue
This is possibly a challenging task but if you are receiving any kind of therapy, it would be good to talk about how to recognise the early signs of stress and fatigue with your health professional.
These events can put more strain on your mental health so try to take note of how you are feeling physically, emotionally and mentally and keep a simple log to track your days.
It won’t take long before you can see if there are common denominators that precede challenging times and you can use this to keep yourself out of triggering situations and maintain your wellness progress.