Mental wellness during the holiday season

Holidays can be a challenging time for many of us. Here we bring you tips on how to look after yourself at this time of the year.

Helps with
Financial stress
10 min read
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Do you struggle with the holiday season?

The holiday season is often depicted as a time of joy, celebration and togetherness, but for many of us, it can bring about a complex mix of emotions. If you find the holiday season challenging, you’re not alone. Many people, just like you, experience complex emotions during this time. It's important to acknowledge your feelings and address them.

In this guide, we provide you with understanding, support, and practical tips to help you navigate this holiday season. Your wellbeing is important to us and we are here to support you when you need it.

It felt isolating being surrounded by everyone celebrating, hugging, dancing and laughing. I felt so disconnected.

Why the holiday season can be so hard

Holiday season can be a challenging time for many people for many different reasons. Holidays can bring about a particularly unique set of stressors around financial pressures and feelings of loneliness.

Loneliness often increases during the holiday season, when there may be a mismatch between the amount of social connection we have compared to the amount we want. It's important to know you can take steps to ease this feeling and connection, even if it seems elusive.

You might feel under pressure to spend money on gifts, gatherings and food, which can be financially stressful. Remember that you can navigate this period with careful planning and resourceful strategies.

Tips to help you manage

  • Tips to manage financial stress this holiday season
    • Set a budget. Determine how much you can afford to spend on gifts, decorations, and festivities. Stick to your budget to avoid overspending.
    • Make a gift list. Create a list of people you want to buy gifts for and allocate a budget for each person. Consider thoughtful gifts that don't necessarily have to be expensive. For example, handmade gifts can be a budget-friendly alternative. They show your thoughtfulness and creativity.
    • Suggest a Secret Santa among family or friends. This could reduce the number of gifts you need to purchase.
    • Avoid impulse buying. When shopping, stick to a list and avoid impulsive purchases. It can be easy to get carried away during the holiday sales.
    • Reevaluate traditions. Consider discussing and reevaluating holiday traditions with loved ones, emphasising simplicity and togetherness over extravagant spending.

    You can also check some other strategies to help you manage financial stress.

  • Tips to manage loneliness this holiday season
  • Tips to manage your overall wellbeing this holiday season
I started reading a lot and spent time on forums. That's where I found a lot of support groups.

How to feel connected

  • Ideas on how to connect with others
    • Make that first step to reconnect with friends and family you haven’t spoken to in a while through a call, text, or message
    • Reach out to friends and family with heartfelt messages, cards, or handwritten letters to let them know you're thinking of them
    • Plan to spend meaningful, quality time with your loved ones, whether it's a heart-to-heart talk or a fun activity
    • Collaborate on a holiday playlist with friends or family members, adding songs that hold special meaning to each of you
    • Participate in online groups or communities related to your interests or hobbies, where you can engage in discussions and connect with like-minded individuals
    • Join online events, such as virtual holiday markets or workshops, where you can meet new people and share in festive experiences
    • Collaborate on a group project with friends, such as a book club or recipe exchange, creating opportunities for connection and shared experiences
    • Host online game nights where you can play digital or board games with friends and family over video calls
    • Consider joining support groups or online communities that offer emotional support and a sense of belonging, especially if you're dealing with unique challenges during the holidays.
  • Spread kindness as a way to connect
  • Connection with yourself

These tips might not work for everyone, and that’s okay. Sometimes, we really do feel like we are all on our own, and it can be an incredibly lonely feeling. However deep your sense of isolation may be, Lifeline is here for you.

You can reach out to us anytime, whether you prefer a call, text, or chat. We're here to listen, offer understanding, and walk this journey with you. Together, we can find strength, connection, and hope to get through this tough time.

There are also some other support services you can access to feel more connected this holiday season. They include:

Supporting others

While the holiday season is often associated with joy and celebration, it's important to remember that for some, this time of year can be a period of challenges and emotional struggles. Holidays can be an opportunity to extend a helping hand, share warmth, and provide comfort to friends, family members, and even strangers who may be experiencing difficulties. Below, we explore ways you can offer support and kindness to those who may be facing difficulties during the holidays.

  • Acknowledge different experiences
    • Recognise that not everyone has a joyful holiday experience, and that's okay
    • Be sensitive to the fact that some people may be dealing with grief, loneliness, financial stress, or other challenges
    • Create an environment where people feel safe sharing their feelings, whether they're experiencing sadness, anxiety, or any other emotions during the holidays. Be flexible with holiday plans, and understand that they may need a more relaxed or adjusted schedule.
    • Create celebrations tailored to their preferences, making them feel comfortable and included in the festivities.

    Respect boundaries and choices

    • Respect their choices, even if it means they may not wish to participate in some holiday activities
    • Encourage them to set personal boundaries, supporting their need for self-care and downtime
    • Everyone copes differently, and it's important to honour their choices regarding how they want to handle their emotions and the holiday season.
  • Offer support and practical help
  • Provide emotional support
  • Financial considerations
  • Create inclusive environments
  • Connect and share resources
  • Encourage self-care
  • Check in regularly

If you’re supporting a young person through the holiday season

The holiday season may bring its own set of difficulties for children and young people. If you're worried about a young loved one, there are some extra steps you can take to foster connections and provide support:

  • Encourage a healthy perspective on the holiday season. Explain that it's okay not to feel cheerful all the time and that it's normal to experience ups and downs.
  • Validate their emotions, even if they don't align with the festive mood. Let them know it's okay to feel sad or stressed, and that you're there to help.
  • Create a safe space for open dialogues. Encourage children and young people to express their thoughts and feelings about the holidays, including any concerns or stress they may have.
  • Tailor your conversations to their age and understanding. Younger children may need simpler explanations, while older ones might benefit from more in-depth discussions.
  • Teach them age-appropriate coping strategies, such as deep breathing, journaling, or seeking help from a trusted adult if they're feeling overwhelmed.
  • Include children and young people in holiday planning and decision-making. This can help them feel a sense of control and involvement.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of emotional distress or behavioural changes. If you notice any concerning signs and are not sure what to do, don't hesitate to seek professional guidance to ensure they receive the support they need.
  • Children and young people often learn by example. Demonstrating how to cope with stress and adversity in a healthy way can be valuable.
  • Encourage them to stay connected
  • Encourage good sleep
  • Take a break together
  • Encourage fun
  • Encourage reaching out for help
  • Invite them to consider a digital detox.
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