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Managing stress through the festive season

Blog post | 05 Dec 2023

Festive holidays aren't happy or healthy for everyone. For some people, they mean long to-do lists, family tension or financial stress. Others may feel lonely and have little to do or no one to celebrate with.

Here are 8 tips for anyone who finds the festive season challenging.

1. Reduce financial stress

Talk to your family about only buying children presents, agreeing to a gift budget or doing secret Santa, where each family member draws the name of a relative and buys just one gift for them.

2. Connect with community

Almost 1 in 3 Australians feel lonely, according to research by the Ending Loneliness Together initiative. 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 is stressing you out or you are alone, looking at others' curated happy snaps on social media may make you feel worse.

4. Cope with family conflict

For some families, Christmas can be more tense than watching a sitting 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.
  • Keep family gatherings a manageable size — for example, catch up with one group of relatives on Christmas Eve and another on Christmas Day.
  • Plan activities, such as backyard cricket (unless your family argue about cricket).

5. Don't drink too much

Reducing 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.
  • Research more tips for difficult conversations.

7. Pack your medications

Travelling for the festive season? Don't forget your medications.

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. You can check if the service bulk bills, provides free parking, is wheelchair accessible and more.

For more information and help

This post was originally published on 18 December 2019 and has been updated to include the most recent details on this topic.

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