The ho-ho-holiday season is here! Many of us are already busy with present shopping and weaving our way between end of year celebrations, for ‘tis the season to be jolly.
And while for many, this time of year brings happiness and joy (and a few extra kilos from all the feasting), it can also be a challenging time for some of us; sometimes having to navigate difficult family environments and spending time away from our chosen family, networks or friends.
So, to help battle any holiday blues, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to get you through the silly season!
The festive season often means interacting with those we don’t speak to regularly. From family gatherings to work events, we might find ourselves in conversations where we get asked questions we may not want to address – and in some of these settings, we may not even be out about our sexuality.
Having clear and set boundaries around topics you’re comfortable addressing is always good practice. A starting point could be to identify what is off limit for you. It could be about your relationship and that cursed question “why don’t you have a girlfriend yet?”, your career, politics or religion. If any of the topics come up, you have every right to not answer it. You could simply say something along the lines of “I appreciate you asking, however I’d rather not to talk about it right now”. Be firm but polite and do what you need to protect yourself and your feelings.
Have some “me” time without tech
We can be surrounded by technology in our day-to-day lives, and sometimes we need a reset. We hear you – putting your phone down is easier said than done, but there are a few methods you can do that don’t involve going cold turkey.
The swap method is a great way to find and swap alternatives. An example of this could be instead of your usual routine of just sitting inside watching TV or scrolling on your phone, sit outside and read a book or magazine. If you do find that you still need to access your tech devices from time to time, set a timer to remind yourself to take breaks here and there.
Find motivation in something that doesn’t require screen time, be that exercise or even just going for a stroll around a part of your town that you’ve not been to before. You may discover something new.
Volunteer to help others doing it tough
Volunteering is not only a great way to meet new people that share a passion for the same cause or community group, but it’s also an amazing opportunity to spend time giving back and providing support to those in need.
We can sometimes forget how indeed lucky and blessed we are, so paying those blessings forward to those who may be in worse situations than our own can help put things into perspective and do good for the soul. I mean, Christmas is all about giving, isn’t it?
There are many organisations that are always looking for volunteers around this time of year, such as kitchens offering meals to the homeless or socially isolated. If you’re unsure about where to look or who to volunteer for, a quick Google search can point you in the right direction.
Reach out if you need a hand
Help is never too far away. If you feel things are getting too much and you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, reach out to a friend or family member for support. Who knows – they may also need a bit of help themselves.
Across Australia, there are support services that run 24/7 and throughout the holiday period and are available both online and over the phone. For a list of helplines and mental health services, check out ACON’s new mental health hub here.org.au.
So, take a deep breath and tell yourself “you got this” – because you do.
From all of us at Ending HIV, we wish everyone a wonderful and safe festive season.