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As we approach the holiday season, many of us can feel overwhelmed for different reasons at a time when our reserves are already depleted.

The cumulative stress of dealing with COVID at home and work in recent years has also taken its toll.

Whether it be financial pressures, being time poor, family tensions, being isolated or just that another year has gone by, stress can creep up and manifest at the end of year.

Nursing & Midwifery Health Program Victoria (NMHPV) CEO Glenn Taylor says people often delay reaching out until after the holiday period.

“Often by the time we see people come to us they have significant challenges. It’s almost like people try to hang on as much as they can until Christmas is over and the kids are back at school. They wait until they can clear the air and think more before they reach out to us.”

There is a whole range of issues that may manifest in 2022 – from financial problems with increasing cost of living expenses to feeling the burden of working extra shifts or hours with not enough people in your department, Taylor says.

Issues or problems often do not need a lot of time or attention if they are addressed early.

“It’s almost always best to try to address any challenges or situations as early as possible. Research shows they are more likely to be resolved quicker and better if addressed early,” says Taylor.

If left unaddressed, they can become more complicated and take longer to resolve, he says.

“For someone with an addiction, it might be a driving offence, or making an error at work; or for someone that is overly stressed, tiredness is having an impact on their decision-making.”

Here are some tips from NMHPV Senior Clinician and Registered Nurse Carolyn McDonald to help you navigate this coming festive season to stay safe and enjoy yourself.

The myth of the perfect Christmas

Give it up!

“The holiday season means different things to different people,” says McDonald.

“Expectations can increase anxieties and disappointment if things don’t go according to a plan. It is also one of those annual review days of comparison to the past – so give it up!”

  • Take care of yourself. Compassion and self-compassion is the key. If you don’t want to go don’t. Practise how to say no and encourage your friends to be supportive.
  • If you absolutely must attend gatherings that could be challenging, take breaks away, such as going to the toilet, make fake phone calls, or strategically remove yourself from situations.
  • If you’re able to, take games to play with others. This creates opportunities for laughter, such as outdoor cricket, FINSKA, Quoits.
  • Have a buffer time between social events. It’s important to rest and recharge.
  • Incorporate a walk as part of your routine for the day – to do this will require you to have a good night sleep.
  • Meditate or mindful practise.
  • Have realistic expectations on yourself. Don’t go cooking a three-course meal and expect you will be available everywhere else.
  • Acceptance is the key. Invariably something may go wrong – expect that things won’t go to plan.
  • Minimise alcohol consumption or better still make Christmas Day an alcohol-free day. You can nominate yourself as the designated driver.
  • If you are drinking, try to eat a substantial meal to improve your tolerance to alcohol. And try to avoid eating salty snack foods which will encourage you to drink more quickly.
  • If you’re on your own volunteer somewhere or join a community activity.
  • If it’s a time that is difficult for you, reach out to your already established supports.
The Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria can be of support for challenging times, no issue too big or too small (03) 9415 7551
If you need immediate support, you can call Nurse Midwife Support on 1800 667 877.