The holiday season is often a busy time with much to do, attend and plan, which can bring up feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, stressed and depressed. Here are some tips bought to you by the Black Dog Institute to look after your wellbeing this holiday season.

1. Work out your priorities and keep a list

Prioritise tasks by identifying which are “must-do” tasks and which are “would like to do” tasks and tick them off when they’re done. Make the tasks possible; don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Remember to prioritise your own physical and mental health as well.

2. Think before you commit yourself to other people’s expectations

We can often perform tasks merely to feel accepted by other people; there is no better example of this than the holiday period when we try to squeeze everything into our diaries. Practice saying ‘no’ to requests that are unreasonable or more than you can handle at the time, rather than suffer subsequent regrets and stress.

3. Set aside time each day for recreation and exercise

Gentle repetitive exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling are good for relieving stress. Meditation, yoga, pilates and dance are also excellent. The trick is to find what suits you best. Hobbies that focus attention are also good stress relievers and can give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

4. Connect with others

For some of us, the holidays can be isolating, particularly if we are separated from family and friends. Pick up the phone and call someone you care about, organise a video catch up or attend a local community-run event. Remember to check in on others who may be doing it tough and feeling alone at this time as well.

5. Acknowledge your concerns

Bushfires, a global pandemic, and an economic recession – this year has presented challenges for many people. Be aware of the concerns you might have regarding your health, finances or even reconnecting with people you haven’t seen for a while during this holiday period. Talk with someone you trust to develop strategies to manage your concerns while still enjoying what the holiday season has to offer.

6. Take your time

Don’t let people rush you. Frenzied activities lead to errors, regrets and stress. If you’re feeling rushed, ask people to wait until you finish working or thinking something out. Plan ahead to arrive at appointments early, composed and having made allowances for unexpected hold-ups. Practice approaching situations mindfully.

7. Identify your stressful situations

Make a list of events or activities that leave you emotionally drained, with one or two ways to reduce the stress for each. Try not to overburden yourself with challenging situations but when they occur, use them as an opportunity to practise stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing and keep notes on what works for next time.

8. Be flexible

Being realistic and flexible with your expectations will help prevent guilt or disappointment if you don’t complete your to-do list or if things don’t go as planned.

9. Watch your alcohol intake

It’s easy to get caught up in festive activities, and sometimes a drink or two can feel like a solution to a problem, but it will only help temporarily. Drinking can create more problems in terms of physical and mental health. Consider the effects you are looking for (sedation and stimulation) and whether or not you can achieve them differently.

10. Perform small acts of kindness

Performing five kind acts a week creates a measurable boost to levels of psychological wellbeing. Whether you share a kind word, volunteer your time, or donate goods, helping others not only makes you feel happier, but it also enhances your connection with others.

11. Be in the moment and have fun!

We can often spend so much time worrying about the past or future that we don’t enjoy what is happening in that moment. Take the time to stop and be aware of your surroundings – what can you see, hear, and smell? Enjoy the festivities, be a bit silly and have a laugh.

This is our last post for 2020 and on behalf of EAP Assist we wish you a very happy & safe festive season and all the very best for the comming year.