Keeping the festive cheer in check

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Central West Hospital and Health Service Mental Health Team Leader Joni Barrie.

Although the Christmas holidays are often a happy and joyful time, they can also be a challenging period for some. “Holiday periods like Christmas and New Year, when people are spending a lot of time together, can generate their own pressures and stresses,’’ Central West Hospital and Health Service Mental Health Team Leader Joni Barrie said.

Ms Barrie said although the community was now in a period of COVID-normal, the previous two years of pandemic continued to have a lingering effect.

“As this year’s Christmas and New Year period will be the first festive period since 2019 without some form of pandemic restrictions, the pressures may be even greater,’’ she said.

But there are strategies available to help you through the holiday season - and professionals you can turn to at any time of the day or night.

“More than ever, we need to mindful of the mental health and wellbeing of ourselves and others over the festive season,’’ Ms Barrie said.

“Christmas can feel very isolating if you don’t have family and friends nearby. If this is the case, it’s important to keep your routine as much as possible and do something you enjoy, such as go for a walk, watch a movie, do some gardening, or cook your favourite meal.

“At the same time, Christmas time can also be overwhelming for some people with the pressure to buy presents, celebrate and spend time with family and friends.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed in the lead-up to Christmas, write a to do list to help you feel organised.

“If you can’t spend money, do something meaningful or offer to help with preparing the meal, cleaning the house, or babysitting.

“It’s OK to say no to things and it’s important you spend time with people who are supportive.

“Remember, you don’t have to go to every activity or get together. Take a day off from the celebrations, or even just a morning or afternoon, and enjoy some down time.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lonely. or anxious, you can reach out and talk to someone.

“You could reach out to a supportive relative or friend by sending a text or message on social media, inviting someone over for a coffee or making a phone call.” Professional mental health support also is available 24/7 by phoning 1300 MH CALL (1300 642 255).

Any member of the community seeking a public mental health service anywhere in Queensland can dial this state-wide number.

“By contacting the 24-hour mental health call line, you will be put in contact immediately with an appropriate mental health service for advice and support,’’ Ms Barrie said.

“The 1300 MH CALL number helps us deliver the right care and support at the appropriate time which is important for people experiencing mental health stress.’’

However, Ms Barrie stressed the 1300 MH CALL number was not a replacement for emergency services or support services.

“Mental health consumers and the wider community requiring emergency assistance should continue to use the 000number in times of emergency,’’ she said.

Ms Barrie said Central West residents also should remember it was important to eat healthy and limit their alcohol intake over the festive season.

“What we eat and drink is linked to our mood and both our physical and mental health,” she said.

“While many of us are guilty of overindulging over the festive season, it’s important to eat and drink alcohol in moderation as much as possible.”

Some useful links and contacts: