Give yourself a break this Christmas

Mental health experts are advising people to look after themselves in the holidays.

Financial hardship, family conflict and loneliness can increase stress for people with anxiety and depression in the lead up to Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Other related factors include budget stress, pressure related to ‘putting on appearances’ at social engagements, or alternatively, being alone during the holidays.

Phillip Galley, from the Murray Mallee General Practice Network and Riverland Division of General Practice, said people should look out for warning signs.

“A vital principle for mental health is that the body and brain must be in sync,” said Mr Galley.

“If it’s out of sync, if you lose your rhythm, then you’re in for some trouble, regarding anxiety and exhaustion.

“If you’re running on empty, you’re not doing you or your loved ones any good.”

Mr Galley also recommended trying to avoid conflict by connecting with people who offer positive interactions, but if that wasn’t possible, then reaching out to services which offer assistance.

“Lifeline do a brilliant job, and the Regional Access program is staffed by professionals and is available 24/7.”

You can contact the Regional Access program via 1300 032 186, or https://saregionalaccess.org.au.

You can ring beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

beyondblue also have a specialised service for the holidays, the CHRISTMAS 2017/NEW YEARS Chillout Lounge thread.

It is staffed by professionals is one of many beyondblue forums available online at beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums

Other advice includes checking in with your GP to receive a mental health plan, and to access drug and alcohol services if you feel you’re losing control.

If you’re concerned about being alone on Christmas, you can check in with local community groups to see if there is a social gathering you can join.