Top tips for surviving the festive season
December 18, 2023
For many people, December is one of the busiest months of the year.
School is ending and kids are entering holiday mode. Work might be ramping up or trying to wrap things up before shutting down for a period. There are end-of-year celebrations, presents to buy, plans to make for Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and the summer holidays. It is a lot.
And we haven’t even mentioned juggling family dynamics.
It can be a magical time of year, but also a stressful one. So here are our top tips for surviving the silly season with your mental health and wellbeing intact.
Accept what you can’t control.
At this time of year, there can be long to-do lists, tight deadlines, and a lot of pressure and expectations. However, there will be some things that are out of your control. Whether it’s a courier delay, traffic, or someone’s expectations. Take a deep breath, count to three, and then let it go.
It’s okay to say no.
At a time of excess – food, drinks, social gatherings – sometimes the best thing for our mental health is to say no. While it can be hard, it is okay to say no. It might be something you should do or should go to, but you don’t have to. Do what you need to do to look after your mental health and wellbeing.
It’s okay to leave early.
In the same vein, it’s also okay to leave early. If you go to a social function, you don’t need to stay till the bitter end. Set expectations about how long you plan to stay when you accept the invitation or just head off once you have filled your social cup or things start to get rowdy.
Be realistic about present buying.
Let’s admit it, buying presents can be fun. It can also get over the top and expensive quickly! Try not to get caught up in the hype that often surrounds this season and put limits on present buying. This might be setting a budget and sticking to it, having a Secret Santa for large groups, making homemade gifts or forgoing presents entirely.
Keep an eye on how much you’re drinking.
We’re celebrating so we’re drinking! Sound familiar? Something about the festive season tends to make people want to get extra boozy. It can be easy to get caught up in the social pressure and have another even if you don’t feel like it. You don’t need booze to have fun so be mindful of what you’re drinking and know your limits.
If you’re sober, this time of year has a whole lot of other challenges, along with heightened emotions and social pressure. Know you can get through the silly season sober and still have a good time. Take a look at this great blog from Living Sober with tips, techniques and advice for tackling the festive season sober.
Be aware of your Line of Vulnerability.
With so much going on, this time of year can quickly feel overwhelming. The smallest thing can be the thing that pushes us over our Line of Vulnerability so it’s particularly important to be aware of those stresses building. Take some time each day to check in with yourself, how close are you getting to your Line of Vulnerability?
Use Te Whare Tapa Whā to maintain your wellbeing.
Te Whare Tapa Whā is a great framework for looking at your overall wellbeing and checking in with how you are feeling. Like the wharenui, we need all four strong walls and a strong foundation to thrive. Are any of your walls feeling unbalanced? What do you need to do to strengthen your walls?
Take time to recharge.
Make it a priority every day to take some time to recharge. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Even if it’s just a few minutes each day, take some time to do something that fills your cup, that leaves you feeling refreshed. This could be sitting in the sun, drinking your favourite cup of tea, reading a book, or doing some exercise. Whatever works for you.
Be aware of other people and their Line of Vulnerability.
It can be a stressful and busy time of year so it can help to be mindful of how you respond to others. Pay attention to your Line of Vulnerability but be aware of the people around you and their Lines of Vulnerability. Have a positive impact on their day, don’t be the thing that tips them over their Line.
Limit social media.
During a time when there is a lot of pressure to do things, to buy things, it can be helpful to take a break from social media. It’s important to remember that social media only shows a snapshot of someone’s life, it’s never the whole story but that doesn’t always make it easy not to play the comparison game. It’s a great time for a break from social media to focus on being present with your whānau and friends.
Check in on people.
While there is so much focus on family and togetherness, the festive season can be a lonely time for many people. It’s a good time to reach out to whānau, friends, colleagues and neighbours and see how they are doing.
Learn more with MH101®
Blueprint for Learning’s MH101® workshop is focused on mental health, including how to recognise when someone is experiencing mental health challenges and how to support them while maintaining your own wellbeing.
Learn more with Addiction 101
If you are worried about someone’s relationship with alcohol, Blueprint for Learning’s Addiction 101 workshop provides a deeper understanding of addiction, what causes addiction and shows that recovery is possible. The workshop will give you tools for supporting people experiencing addiction issues, at home or work.
Where to get help
You are not alone. If you or someone you know is having a hard time this holiday season, there are many organisations, websites and other resources in New Zealand that can help support people and their whānau and friends. The following lists provide a good starting point. 1737 is also available to free call or text any time, 24 hours a day.