The festive season can be a difficult time for many people. It is a time we associate with family and friends, so for people who are isolated, lonely or dealing with feelings of grief, it can be an emotional and challenging time.
It can also be a difficult time for our rural communities who may be experiencing additional stresses such as financial hardship, uncertain weather and market forecasts, and lingering stress from harvest if this did occur at all in 2015.
Existing stress or mental illnesses can be worsened by feelings of isolation and not wanting to burden family or friends which can diminish our resilience or our ability to bounce back from difficult situations.
Our usually effective coping strategies may not work quite so well. This can be further amplified if excessive alcohol is consumed during the Christmas season.
Ways to manage difficult feelings and improve our resilience can include:
- getting involved in social activities such as a community Christmas function;
- staying in touch with family and friends;
- be mindful of our diet and getting enough sleep and exercise;
- be careful of excessive alcohol intake and avoid other drugs.
Camilla Kenny of the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) said the festive season can also be a busy time for of celebrations and it is important to remember to plan how you can celebrate safely. Aspects such as how you intend to get to your destination and home again, if or how much you intend to drink and who you will be celebrating with are integral to ensuring you have a safe time.
“If you know someone who will be alone over the Christmas period, consider inviting them to join you to combat loneliness. If you cannot do this, try to keep in contact with them to make sure they are alright,” she said.
“Alcohol is a depressant drug which affects coordination, concentration, judgement skills and slows response times,” said RAMHP worker Di Gill.
“All of these factors can lead to unexpected situations or accidents and should be kept in mind when partying with alcohol. Mixing alcohol with other drugs can also enhance these effects and add more problems to a situation.”
Remember it is essential to seek help for any mental health or drug/alcohol concern over this period. Although many services will be closed over the holiday period, support from trained staff is available through the Mental Health Line, Drug & Alcohol Helpline and our local hospitals.
If you have any concerns about yourself or a loved one, please contact the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 (free call for landlines) or Drug & Alcohol Helpline - 1300 887 000.