19 December 2022 posted by Recovery Partners

Christmas is often a fun and festive time for many, but this period also brings unique challenges for many families across Australia.

From health issues presenting emotional and financial hardship, to sharp reminders of loved ones lost, this time of year isn’t always full of joy.

Similarly, many people across the country don’t celebrate Christmas for religious or cultural reasons.

Concerns of Christmas past, present and future

Financial concerns

It’s been a costly year for everyone. From unprecedented interest rate hikes to the average grocery shop blowing out due to the rising cost of living, Christmas can be an additional stress and stark reminder that we can’t always give our loved ones the presents we’d really like to.

Of course, gifts don’t need to be costly. Writing a genuine, heartfelt card is often more meaningful than giving a voucher or a new gadget. Also, baking or cooking for people is a beautiful act of giving, not to mention usually cheaper and easier than hitting the shops trying to find something materialistic.

You can also simply inform friends and family that you won’t be giving nor expecting gifts this year as it’s not within your budget. Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind, don’t matter!

Grief and loss

Many grief and counselling resources, such as My Grief Assist, suggest being particularly gentle to yourself at Christmas time and allowing yourself to grieve. They also suggest making a point of remembering your loved one in a special way, whether that’s lighting a candle, buying a special ornament or watching their favourite festive movie.

How to survive and thrive this festive period

Just breathe

This can be easier said than done. Breath work is a simple concept and one we don’t often give thought to because it occurs automatically. However, breath on its own can have a profound effect on both our physiological and emotional wellbeing.

Follow us on social media to learn some breathing exercises from a psychologist.

Be proactive

If you know the silly season might be hard for whichever reason, try seeking help early and putting strategies in place.

This might look like speaking to an allied health professional, reading a self-help book or choosing only to put your energy into people and events who truly matter to you.

Setting boundaries

We can’t choose our family and sometimes we have no choice in spending the holidays with them.

If you’re finding any family members or topics of conversation particularly challenging, you might try saying something along the lines of “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that, can we talk about something else?”. If they have an issue with your more than reasonable request, you can respectfully leave the conversation and situation.

Limit alcohol

Australians have a culture around alcohol consumption that can make it pretty hard to say no when someone suggests a drink. This attitude permeates a lot of our workplaces. It’s more pronounced than ever at this time of year, with the after-work drinks and lunchtime drinks and special occasion drinks all merging into a month-long celebration that inevitably involves booze and a lot of it.

Remember, you can choose not to drink at all if you’re worried about it – declining a drop doesn’t make you a killjoy.

Be mindful

If you’re an employer, it’s a good idea to look for signs of stress or poor mental health in your employees. Clear and consistent communication will help to foster positive relationships which will help to promote a workplace culture where people feel safe talking about difficult topics.

Celebrate other cultural events

As aforementioned, many people do not celebrate Christmas for religious or cultural reasons.

As an employer, there are many other religious and cultural events throughout the year that your organisation might choose to celebrate. These include Lunar New Year, Harmony Day, St Patrick’s Day and Orthodox Easter, just to name a few!

Harmony Day: Harmony Day is observed each year on March 21, celebrates this diversity, aiming to foster inclusiveness, respect and the idea that people of all different cultures can make a valuable contribution to society.

Lunar New Year: Lunar New Year is a festival typically celebrated in China and other Asian countries that begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. The lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, so the dates of the holiday vary slightly from year to year, beginning some time between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars.

St Patrick’s Day: St. Patrick’s Day is observed every year on March 17 and is packed with parades, good luck charms, and all things green. The event started as a religious holiday, but over time it’s become a celebration of Irish culture.

Orthodox Easter: Greek Orthodox Easter, is the most important religious feast of the year, with customs and traditions that have been part of Christianity for two thousand years.

The 40-day period of Lent before Easter, the solemnity of Holy Week, the rich symbolism, and the unique traditions of Orthodox Easter make it different than Easter as celebrated by Roman Catholics, Protestants, and other Western Christians.

How Recovery Partners can help

EAP Services

Remind your staff they can access Employee Assistance Program.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a service you can offer your employees that provides them with free, confidential counselling conducted by a registered psychologist.

Wellbeing Programs

Recovery Partners provides workplace training based on best-practice and current research evidence from the behavioural science and psychology fields. Training sessions are designed to be innovative and engaging for participants, while also promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Some training topics include Mental Health Awareness and Stress Management. We can also tailor topics to suit your business needs, such as surviving the end of the year.

We wish you happy holidays and a prosperous new year!

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/