Christmas time can become a difficult time for some of us. Here are some practical tips to destress and help get through.
1. Plan, walk and talk
Make sure all your medications are up to date. Use exercise, like walking, to help alleviate stress when you sense a trigger. Talk to someone prior to Christmas Day, ask them to help you rehearse and revise your coping mechanisms.
2. Keep it simple
If you are feeling overwhelmed with things to do, write a list and slowly work through it. Write the most important things at the top, and then work your way down, one task at a time.
3. Use the past to your advantage
Look back and learn from past Christmas. What worked and what didn’t? Were there situations, people, or events that adversely affected you? How did you respond and can you see a pattern in these past experiences? Use the positive coping skills you have used in the past to help you this year.
4. Find time for yourself
Make space for solitude and do what recharges you. This will stop you from burning the candle at both ends and trying to meet the heightened expectations of Christmas.
5. Be honest with yourself, friends and family
If you can’t do something or be somewhere, apologise and tell them early. Explain that you’re struggling mentally, burnt out, or that crowds, questions or people are too overwhelming at the moment. Say you’re not in a good place right now and it’s nothing personal and you wish them the best and appreciate their understanding.
Ask for their understanding and support. You’ll be surprised how many people understand. If they don’t that’s ok too. This honesty gives you space to choose when to contact people and not feel pressured.
6. Choose who you celebrate with
Spend time with the people who really love and cherish you and limit or avoid spending time with those who don’t. Remember that you are allowed to have a happy Christmas too.
7. Look ahead
Limit your exposure to people who are draining and plan something you really want to do after Christmas. This way you have something to look forward to. It could be as simple as going for a walk or reading a book.
8. Manage your energy
Give only as much as you have to. Keep your interactions short and be open and honest about how you’re feeling with at least one support person. It can be hard to set boundaries. But sometimes you just have to say no. It can be very scary putting yourself first but those who really care will understand.
Try to spend time with people who energise you rather than those who drain you. In the lead-up to this Christmas surround yourself with supportive people, minimise stressors, keep to your routines and think about how involved you would like to be in Christmas, knowing that it’s okay to not go beyond your capabilities or preference.
9. Find a safe space
If you have to go to a Christmas lunch or dinner, but don’t feel comfortable, find a quiet spot to have a break when you get overwhelmed.
10. Debrief with a trusted support
Talk to someone before and after you attend a stressful event. This can be a mental health professional, a helpline, or somebody close to you.
If you need support during the December and January period please call Relationships Australia NT on (08) 8923 4999. Our counsellors can help people through stressful periods like Christmas.