Avoid the 'Christmas Blues' this festive season

22 December 2011

The festive season is all about 'good cheer' but the extra stress and loneliness that some experience can make Christmas one of the most difficult times of the year.

Department of Health Director of Mental Health, Bronwyn Hendry says the key to keeping up spirits over the holiday period is to manage personal wellbeing.

"For most people this is the season for sharing good times with friends and family, but financial pressure, bereavement, illness, family tensions and isolation can make many people feel less than cheery over Christmas."

Ms Hendry said that by acknowledging this reality and taking steps to manage stress and isolation, people can stop these factors from taking over their Christmas.

"A trap many fall in to is putting huge expectations on themselves heading into the festive season and then feeling disappointed when these expectations aren't met.

"It's also important to acknowledge that depression doesn't take a holiday. It is estimated that one in every five people will be affected by mental illness in any given year, and for some people Christmas can be a particularly difficult time.
 
"If you can, it is helpful to try and plan ahead and spend time with the people you care about and who support you."
Ms Hendry warns that alcohol can make potentially stressful situations much worse.

"While Christmas is a time to relax and celebrate, it can sometimes be used as an excuse to drink more than we normally would. Too much alcohol can alter judgment and may exacerbate feelings of anxiety, anger and depression."

Some tips for relieving the stress of Christmas are:
 - Take time out for yourself and do something that makes you feel good
 - Don't be afraid to ask for or accept help
 - Keep track of your Christmas spending
 - Be realistic about what you can and can't do
 - Spend time with supportive and caring people

"We need to be aware of our limits and recognise signs of stress, anxiety or depression, such as irritability, tiredness and loss of appetite. It's important for people to know they are not alone and there is help available," Ms Hendry said.
 
If you, or someone you know is experiencing mental distress you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or NT Crisis Assessment Telephone Triage and Liaison Service on 1800 682 288.

Media Contact: Bridget Wild 89 992 818 or 0401 116 203