It’s known as the season to be jolly, but the festive season can be difficult for some; particularly those struggling with their mental health.

Metro South Health Addiction and Mental Health director Gabrielle Vilic said Christmas was always seen as a happy time, but can bring with it lots of extra stressors.

“Unfortunately for some people, the festive season can lead to feelings of sadness, isolation, loneliness and dissatisfaction,” Ms Vilic said.

“It can be a particularly challenging time for those who are feeling lonely, have lost a loved one, or are experiencing family conflict.

“The pandemic has also had an impact, with people being unable to connect with family, friends and loved ones.”

Ms Vilic said family gatherings and buying gifts also added to the feelings of stress.

“This can result in financial strain and feeling overwhelmed, and it’s this added stress which can lead to physical illness, depression, anxiety, and substance misuse.”

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to take care of your wellbeing.

“You can relieve stress by taking time out, talking to someone, planning ahead and keeping your expectations in check.

“It’s also important to stay healthy by exercising, limiting alcohol and practicing mindfulness – which can be as simple as taking three deep breaths.”

If you notice someone is having a hard time, Ms Vilic said there are simple ways to support them.

“Listen without judgement, invite them to some occasions to make them feel connected and included, and spend some time together outdoors – go for a walk, do some gardening or go somewhere by the water.”

Ms Vilic said it was important to encourage your loved one to continue with their usual activities and interests and to maintain their relationships.

“Often people will withdraw from their daily routines and this can lead to isolation, so it’s important to keep up their usual things they like to do,” she said.

Ms Vilic said if you are concerned, it’s important to ask – “Are you okay?”

“Don’t hesitate to talk to someone if you are worried about them – your support could have a big outcome and make a big difference.

“Listen and encourage them to talk about what is happening for them and to talk about how they are feeling.

“Support the person and reassure them that they are not alone and that the situation and feelings can get better and that there is hope.”

If you’re struggling with your mental health, you can access free and confidential support:

24/7 crisis services
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
1800 Respect: 1800 737 732

The Metro South community can access local mental health services for information and assistance in times of mental health crisis 24 hours a day via a centralised phone number – 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 22 55).

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