Festive holidays aren't happy or healthy for everyone. For some people, they mean long to-do lists, family tension or financial stress. Others don't have anything to do — and no one to celebrate with.
Here are 8 tips for anyone who finds the festive season a little challenging.
1. Reduce financial stress
It's OK to be a scrooge when it comes to presents. Instead of re-mortgaging your house to fill Christmas stockings, talk to your family about buying only children presents, agreeing on a gift budget or doing 'secret Santa' (each family member draws the name of a relative and buys just one gift for them).
2. Connect with community
Half of all Australians feel lonely on at least one day of every week, according to research by Swinburne University. The festive season can be an especially lonely time for many people. If you're feeling isolated — or want to ease the loneliness of others — you might find a Christmas event near you on the Salvation Army website.
If that's not your thing, you could volunteer with a local charity, aged care facility or hospital, or simply strike up a conversation with a neighbour. Even small connections can make a big difference.
3. Stay off social media
If the festive season's stressing you out or you are alone, looking at others' curated happy snaps on social media can make you feel worse.
4. Cope with family conflict
For some families, Christmas can be more tense than a sitting day in Parliament. But there are things you can do to side-step arguments:
- Avoid topics that family members usually argue about.
- Be civil for the kids — try to put aside adult conflicts and focus on the children's enjoyment of festive holidays.
- Break up celebrations — for example, catch up with one group of relatives on Christmas Eve and another on Christmas Day.
- Plan activities, such as backyard cricket, as a distraction (unless your family argue about cricket).
5. Don't drink too much
Quelling your stress with alcoholic beverages can make you feel worse and it's certainly not good for your health. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of some cancers, such as breast, pancreatic, bowel (colorectal), liver, oesophageal, mouth and throat cancers. The level of risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that healthy adults have no more than 10 standard drinks per week and a limit of 4 standard drinks per day.
6. Talk it out
If there's someone in your family or circle of friends who causes you stress, try to work it out together. ReachOut offers these tips:
- Let the person know they upset you in a non-confrontational way, since they might not be aware they're doing it.
- Choose a time when you both feel calm.
- Find more tips for difficult conversations here.
Research by Healthdirect Australia found that 57% of Australians worry about health issues when they go on holiday. If you or your child is feeling unwell when you're far from home and not sure what to do, use the healthdirect Symptom Checker to get advice.
7. Pack your medications
Travelling for the festive season? Don't forget your meds and repeat prescriptions. According to Healthdirect Australia, more than 1 in 5 Australians have forgotten to pack their medication when going on holiday.
8. Find a health service quickly
If you do need a pharmacist — or doctor, hospital or any other health service — use the healthdirect Service Finder to locate one near you, from anywhere in Australia. There are more than 5,000 pharmacies and 8,000 GP practices listed, for example, as well as a range of services from dietitians to domestic violence support, and physio to food relief.
You can check if the service bulk bills, provides free parking, is wheelchair accessible and more. Visit the healthdirect Service Finder here or download the free healthdirect app here.
Click here for more tips on beating Christmas stress and anxiety.
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