How to improve your mental health during the festive season

13 December 2016

If there’s one gift to give yourself as this year draws to a close, it’s the gift of self-reflection – it will benefit your mental health.

Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman says people need to take time to consider what brings balance to their lives and helps them stay mentally healthy.

“Ask yourself: what do I most enjoy about my life? What stresses me out?” Ms Harman says. “The answers to these questions can help you plan a beneficial break and lead to you making the most of 2017.”

Ms Harman suggests four ways people can support their own mental health this holiday season:

Disconnect from work

In the age of technology, people are often expected to be contactable at all times. With that, comes a lot of pressure to work, even after you’ve ‘left the building’. Before you leave for your holiday, let your colleagues and clients know that you’ll be ‘out of range’ and won’t be able to answer calls or emails. If possible and practicable, give yourself a break from emails and calls – and resist the urge to check.

Develop a ritual for disconnecting from your work worries. One option is to write down all the things you’re worried about and then throw that piece of paper away, or at least store it and look at it only once you return to work.

Get out of your comfort zone

Break your normal routine and do something completely out of the ordinary – it’s a great way to boost your mental health. Take a new class, volunteer, travel to a new city: choose something that gives you a different experience and perspective on life.

Take up a healthy habit

Holidays allow you more time, so make the most of it by introducing a healthy habit into your daily routine. There are many options that could help improve your mental health: exercise, eat healthy food, meditate, write in a journal, and connect more regularly with friends.

The trick to forming a new habit is to start small and link it to a regular behaviour. You might try journaling after waking, or calling your parents after dinner each Sunday.

Do a life review

Imagine you’re at your 80th birthday party and people are giving speeches about you. What do you want them to say about the kind of person you are? What do you want to have achieved? Use this exercise to tap into what matters most in life to you. Then, write on a piece of paper three things you want to ‘start doing’, ‘stop doing’, and ‘do differently’ after your holiday. 

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