Risk Bites Issue 6: Mental Health and the Holidays
Christmas is often regarded as one of the most festive times of the year – and for good reason! It’s a time when we all come together within our Church communities and are surrounded by family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. For this reason, Christmas is one of the best times to connect with our faith.
While there is much to be joyous about this time of year, the holidays can also be a time of great stress. From financial to social to family commitments, December is undoubtedly a special time of the year. For some, purchasing gifts for our loved ones can be a significant financial stressor. Increased family and social gatherings may result in increased travel and the need to juggle our already busy schedules to accommodate these activities. For others, work is unavoidable over the holiday season making time management even more difficult. Christmas can also be a trigger for painful reminders of lost loved ones who are no longer with us to celebrate.
Many people report Christmas as being a significant environmental stressor for them. The unique pressure we face during the holidays can place us at greater risk for developing mental health difficulties, such as stress or feelings of anxiety and depression.
Mental health difficulties can significantly impair our ability to function normally in our day-to-day lives. It can lead to feelings of distress, worry, isolation and withdrawal. It can also have a serious impact on our ability to perform occupational tasks.
Despite how common mental difficulties are, 54% of people with a mental illness do not access support!4 Looking after your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. If your brain is unhealthy, your physical body will likely follow, making it extremely important to think about ways that we can take care of ourselves.
There are many ways we can promote healthy wellbeing in ourselves and others. These can range from simple habits and activities that you can do at home to reaching out for support from a professional. Here are some tips we’ve come up with to help you throughout the holidays.
The holidays are jam-packed with social activities that can make it difficult to find time to yourself. Setting aside time to wind down by yourself can help you feel much more rested during the otherwise very busy holidays.
Whether you have work commitments, social gatherings, or both, managing your time effectively and honestly can help minimize some inevitable holiday stresses. Keeping an organised schedule of events and being honest with yourself about how much you can reasonably commit to can be very beneficial.
Learning how to relax is an extremely useful tool that can help you deal with challenges all throughout your life. There are an infinite number of ways you may choose to relax – these might involve listening to music, cooking, reading a book before bed, or exercising. There are many free-for-download smartphone apps designed to help you relax using mindfulness activities. Everyone is different, so it is important to figure out what strategies work best for you.
Talking to someone you know and trust can lead to a strong sense of relief. When we are going through a challenging time, we tend to bottle up our emotions. Over time, our bottle fills up more and more until eventually it becomes full and begins to spill over. Having a supportive person in our lives that we can talk to about what we’re going through can provide us with relief and help keep our bottle from overflowing.
Regardless of how prepared we think were, sometimes life throws us curveballs. Reminding yourself that you are human is always helpful when you are going through difficult times. Some days are better than others, and that’s okay! Never be afraid to ask for help!
Finding a Mental Health Professional
For many, seeking help from a professional is a necessary step in our journey to healthy living. Although we are often able to solve many of life’s problems ourselves, it can be useful to have a knowledgeable professional to help guide you in this process. Much like when a mechanic helps us to change a tire, a mental health professional can often help us arrive at our goals quicker than we can on our own.
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) provides an online register of psychologists to help you find someone who might be suited for your needs. Using their search function, you can find professionals in your geographic area who specialize in the specific difficulties you would like help with. This search register can be found at the following link here.
Employees of UR, UFS, UME, Uniting and employees of all Synod and Assembly entities including our congregations, presbyteries, schools and our ordained Ministers as well as their immediate family members, can access Benestar’s free and confidential services by calling 1300 360 364.
Need someone to talk to?
Lifeline Support Line: 13 11 14
Blue Knot Foundation Support Line: 1300 657 380
* Always remember to call 000 or visit a hospital if you require immediate and urgent support.
Want more information about mental health? Check out these links...
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and very Merry Christmas from all of us here in the Risk team!
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 4326.0, 2007. ABS: Canberra. Retrieved from: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features30March%202009
2 Black Dog Institute. Facts & figures about mental health. Retrieved from: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/default-source/factsheets/facts_figures.pdf?sfvrsn=8