Along with festive fun, this season can bring stress and sadness to many of us, and it’s important to realise that there might be a lot of emotions hiding under all that tinsel and good cheer. It doesn’t mean there won’t be joy in this time, just that we need to be sensitive to ourselves or loved ones who may be experiencing a tougher season.

Low finances, facing the season after loss of a loved one, loneliness, family issues, divorce or other stresses will always be blended into the season – so let’s explore what to do to help yourself or those you love cope.

  • Reach out. Loneliness affects a large percentage of Australians, and there is always someone whose Christmas would be improved by connecting with you. Find a local community event to volunteer at, reconnect with an old friend, visit your neighbours or head to to receive support.
  • Resist consumerism. It’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts, and a handmade gift or card will always give more joy than an obligatory store bought gift. Google ‘free gift ideas’ for 100’s of ways to give thoughtful gifts that don’t break the bank.
  • Focus on what’s important. Christmas is about being with the people you love, not the biggest gifts, the most lavish spread or looking like you have it all together. Find simple ways to appreciate time spent with loved ones, and make that your priority.
  • Give back. Research shows that helping someone else, big or small, not only feels good, but does us good in return. Providing emotional support for someone in need also decreases our own symptoms of depression and ultimately, improves our emotional well-being.
  • Find a way to acknowledge and honor your loss. Find something special to  put on the tree, donate to a charity in their memory, or hug someone else  who might be missing them too.  Sharing and acknowledging the  grief helps the healing.
  • Ask for help. We have all had moments of feeling down, isolated or like we can’t cope. If you are feeling overwhelmed, let the people around you know so they can help.

We all need a little help sometimes to put the magic back into Christmas – you won’t always feel jolly and that’s OK. Practice a little self-care, ask for help when you need it, and make a point of making genuine connections with others throughout this season.