The holiday season is upon us and although popular culture leads us to believe the holidays are the happiest time of year, for many people it is the hardest. The holidays can be hard for many reasons and it’s different for everyone. Knowing this time of year can be difficult, here are some tips for how you can support yourself, friends, family and colleagues who may be feeling this way.

Research shows that one in three young adults experience loneliness. It is important to point out that being ‘lonely’ is different to being ‘alone’ so you can still experience loneliness when you are surrounded by people. There are many common reasons why people feel lonely, especially over the holiday period –fragmented or estranged relationships, geographic distance between loved ones, the loss or separation from a loved one – the list goes on. There are simple ways to help you manage loneliness:

  • Increase meaningful social connections – volunteer to help at events, take up a new hobby or agree to go to an event you would normally turn down
  • Strengthen existing relationships – visit a friend for a catch up or at least set up regular calls and check ins
  • Initiate new relationships with people who share your values – what groups could you join or who in your circle talks with similar views to you?

Like loneliness, there are many common reasons why people experience holiday stress. Furthermore, stress levels can be heightened over the holiday period for all sorts of reasons – needing to meet end of year deadlines at work, having a jam-packed social calendar, managing family and friend dynamics, choosing gifts, having long to-do lists including cooking, baking, shopping, cleaning and entertaining. Three tips to help alleviate stress include:

  • Identify triggers – when you get angry, stop and think about what caused it
  • Create boundaries – what can you put in place to stop that triggering happening or how can you leave a triggering situation
  • Practice mindfulness – regular time-out to de-stress can calm you continuous

Financial Pressures
Spending spikes over the holidays, making it an expensive time of year for most. Many people may be feeling the pinch even more this year than before due to the rising cost-of-living, the impact of natural disasters or a change in circumstances. Research shows that financial wellbeing and mental health are closely linked. If you are worried about money this may be the reason why you’re not feeling like yourself or could be why you’re experiencing symptoms including depression and anxiety. Three ways to help manage financial pressure include:

  • Be honest with yourself and others – tell them you can’t afford to do the things they are suggesting
  • Practice gratitude – what have others done for you and how can you thank them?
  • Show self-compassion – don’t be hard on yourself when you can’t afford to do something, chances are, you aren’t the only one