For many Australians the festive season can be a stressful and lonely time. In fact, 1 in 4 Australian adults report experiencing loneliness.
While loneliness can affect anyone at any time, some factors like stress, fatigue and social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may put you at a higher risk of being affected.
For those that have lost loved ones, grief may also be more intense during the holiday period.
That said, there are ways to reduce loneliness and feel more connected during the festive season.
Coping with stress
The festive season can be stressful. The best way to keep your stress levels in check is to put everything into perspective. According to mental health professionals the best way to manage stress is to think about how you want to spend your time, decide what the holidays mean to you, and keep your expectations realistic.
While the easing of social distancing restrictions has many of us knocking on the doors of our friends and loved ones, for some people, adjusting to elements of ‘normal’ life again may take a bit more time. If you don’t feel ready to take on the world yet, remember it’s OK to take things slowly.
A lot of people overindulge during the holidays, which includes overspending, overeating and overcommitting. Yes, you can have a healthy festive season. Food swapping over the festive season can help maintain gut health and may help you feel better mentally – so say no to the cheese and crackers and opt for veggie sticks or pita bread instead. Reduce your alcohol consumption to help manage anxiety levels or book in some time for you rather than attending every festive event. Remember: learning to say ‘no’ is a gift to yourself.
The importance of self-care
The Salvation Army share tips on how to feel more connected during the festive season:
- Ask and accept help for tasks including food and gift shopping.
- Connect with loved ones that are important to you.
- Volunteer for a local charity or community group.
- Make time for exercise.
- Schedule time for yourself away from the celebrations: go to the movies, get a massage or go on a little staycation and explore your hometown. Treat yourself.
Looking after others
Random acts of kindness go a long way during the festive season. Connect with people who do not have family or friends around for the holidays. Send a card, a small gift, bake festive treats or call someone who may be spending the season alone. Volunteering is a great way to help others and may help reduce feelings of stress, loneliness and social isolation. Talk with your neighbours about their holiday plans; you never know who may appreciate a little company.
If you’re connected to the internet, social media is a great way to stay connected with family and friends who live far away. Start a festive group chat to share your thoughts, photos and videos.
Reach out for support
If you experience feelings of social isolation and loneliness, speak to your GP or mental health professional.
If you’re a member with hospital cover, you can call the Medibank Mental Health Phone Service on 1800 644 325, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week to speak to a mental health professional.