What the Christmas and Festive Season can feel like
Christmas time can be many things – including joyful, restful, busy and demanding. The season invokes the important social, spiritual and emotional arenas of our lives. For some it’s all fun and for others, it spells ‘stress’.
Christmas can bring mixed feelings to those who have lost loved ones or are separated or isolated due to distance and other circumstances. It’s helpful for us all to be mindful of these circumstances, yet keep the fun, spirit and lightness that helps us relax and enjoy the festive season. Be aware of how people are coping around you, a word of kindness may help them get through the day.
We collated some tips from a number of sources for you to read and share.
Tips for Gatherings and Events
- Set realistic expectations of yourself and others; things won’t always go the way we want them, and if we accept this, we can reduce the pressure we put on ourselves to make things perfect
- Plan for key events: making task lists, delegating tasks, setting up a responsible drinking and driving-home plan, wrap gifts before the day, allow extra time for a buffer zone
- Discuss your ‘new or break-away traditions’ early, to avoid disappointment and family pressure
- Set your boundaries upfront and early: such as saying no, negotiating plans and taking personal time
- Recruit the calmest, sanest person in your group to help you manage the people on the day
- Put a smile on your face as you greet people or walk through the door, as your initial reaction/response may set the tone for the day
- Plan a group activity to help occupy and focus the energy. Timetable events for fun and distracting the children (big and small)
- Anticipate potential family conflicts of opinion and encourage a calm, listening approach
- Avoid known triggers. For example, if politics or vaccinations are a touchy subjects in your network, don’t talk about them. If someone brings up the topic, use distraction and/or quickly move on to something else to talk about.
- Use “time-out” for a break if you’re feeling frustrated with family and likely to argue. If you need a break, take one…even if it is another 5-minute trip to the toilet!
- Have a back-up plan or exit plan if you’re not feeling comfortable at an event and wish to leave
Tips for Wellbeing and Coping
- Identify your best coping skills for stressful situations (such as deep breathing, positive self-talk, exercise, mindfulness and relaxation exercises, acceptance, helpful mindsets, recalling what you’re grateful for, talking to a friend) and be prepared to use these if you need to
- Try to be moderate – it may be the season to be jolly, but too much food and alcohol is harmful. People under stress tend to ‘self-medicate’ with alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs. Try to remember that drugs can’t solve problems or alleviate stress in the long term.
- Get enough sleep – plan for as many early nights as you can
- Keep moving – keeping up your regular exercise routine can give you the fitness and stamina to make it through the demands of the festive season
- If your planned coping skills are not working and you become overwhelmed, reach out to talk with your social networks and/or professional services (such as mental health professionals, doctors, counselling help lines and your workplace’s Employee Assistance Program)
- As best you can, keep up your healthy lifestyle routines and things that bring you joy (time with people you like, resting, things that make you happy, hobbies, interests etc)
Bring out the best in yourself
- Focus on what really matters to you and try not to get bogged down in the little things
- Act according to your values (such as patience, respect, flexibility, determination, kindness…)
- Take time to consider what you are grateful for
- Let those close to you know what you appreciate about them
Tips for FIFO and Remote Workers
- If you’re on R&R, spare a kind thought for your workmates holding the fort 🙂
- If you’re working on site, think ahead to plan something fun for Christmas day
- Call your family and tell them what you appreciate about them
- Set realistic expectations with family, in advance, about your Christmas timetable and how long you can stay and how much you can squeeze in.
- Drive safe, arrange designated drivers where fatigue and alcohol are factors
- Keep your safety-mindset turned on, as 75% of injuries in Australia occur at home and play
- If you’ve made healthy life-style changes during the year – keep these up, in balance with permission to let yourself ‘indulge’ a bit over Christmas.
- Take a moment, or two, to appreciate what’s good in your life, and that spirit of what Christmas time means to you.
On our resources page you can access the 4-page PDF with MORE tips under the following categories:
- Managing loneliness
- Taking care of money worries
- How to help a lonely or bereaved loved one at Christmas
- Sources of Support
- Tips for managing grief during the holidays
Checking in with how people are managing and coping with the ‘silly’ season can be a tangible way of supporting employee wellbeing. As a peer or leader, you can ask “how are things for you during this time” and “what do you need that would be helpful to you”? Peer Supporters can also use this blog or the tip-sheet to pass along ideas in the workplace and home life.