With Christmas and New Years impending after a challenging 2023, increased pressure and stress that extends above and beyond a typical holiday period is being felt by many. Prioritising well-being and finding a balance that suits you can feel impossible, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways to regain a sense of control and certainty during the festive period while still allowing space and energy to celebrate with loved ones. 

To help, here are some tips to help you make the most of the holidays while taking care of your mental health.

Embrace the joy of creating new, uncomplicated traditions that bring genuine happiness and novelty, and require minimal effort.

Tip: Engaging in activities that resonate with your and your loved ones’ values can make the holidays more meaningful and stress-free.

The holidays often bring financial stress for many, which can contribute to worry during the Christmas period. Recognise that the true gift lies in being present with loved ones, fostering connection and shared experiences.

Tip: Instead of focusing solely on material gifts, invest time in creating memories and meaningful interactions.

Understand that it’s perfectly acceptable to decline invitations or requests. Setting boundaries can help alleviate the pressures of, and alleviate resentment toward, the holiday period.

Tip: Give yourself the gift of time and reduce unnecessary stress by politely declining activities that do not align with your priorities, and mental and physical energy.

Maintain a sense of normalcy and certainty by adhering to your daily routine as much as possible, providing stability amid the holiday hustle.Consistency in your routine can contribute to a sense of control and reduce stress associated with disruptions.

Tip: As much as feasible, stick to your regular sleep, diet, exercise, and self-care regime and work celebrations around these.

Grant yourself the freedom to take a break in whichever way that looks for you. Remember downtime looks different for everyone – do what works best for you to reset.

Tip: Whether it’s a quiet moment alone or a rejuvenating activity, ensure your break contributes positively to your well-being.

Lighten your holiday load by eliminating non-essential tasks, freeing up time for more enjoyable and meaningful activities. Streamlining your to-do list helps manage stress and allows for a more relaxed and enjoyable holiday season.

Tip: Physically jot down any tasks that come to mind, no matter the size, and be specific. Then categorise them into the 4 D’s: do (the quick, easy 2-minute tasks), delegate (to those who offer a helping hand), defer (the non-priority tasks), or delete (the unnecessary, non-beneficial tasks).

2024 is a stone’s throw away. Don’t conform to arbitrary deadlines; tasks and commitments can wait one more week.

Tip: Postpone any non-urgent tasks and commitments to the new year and allow yourself to enjoy the peace and presence during the Christmas period.

Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your holiday routine to stay present, reduce anxiety, and remain balanced. Mindful practices, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help ground you during hectic holiday moments.

Tip: Mindfulness is not a one-size-fits-all practice. Contact the present moment any way you can, whether it be through consciously pausing before responding to others or situations, using your senses to ground you to your surroundings, or redirecting your mind to your breath. Try practicing keeping your breath rate to 4 to 7 breaths per minute over a 10-minute window to calm your system. 

With so many external pressures to make and adhere to commitments, it can be common to feel you have no control over how you spend your holiday period. Where saying “no” feels like an unachievable option, find opportunities to make your own choices within the chaos to establish some level of perceived control.

Tip: Choices are present every day. When you feel you have no choice but to say “no” to a social obligation, make a choice on when you go, how long you stay, and what interactions you’re open to having with others. 

Acknowledge and accept that it’s impossible to do it all; embrace imperfections and temporary disruptions, and focus on what truly matters to you.

Tip: Practice saying to yourself “I acknowledge and accept my limitations during the holiday season. I recognise that my capacity has its bounds, and it’s okay to commit only to what is manageable. I understand that this period is temporary, and a return to normalcy is on the horizon”.

Recognise that finding the holidays challenging is a valid and common experience; be kind to yourself during times of difficulty. You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed and pressured throughout this time and support is always available.

Tip: Seek support when needed, whether from friends, family, or professionals, to navigate through tough moments with resilience. There are many 24-hour crisis services available to assist.


If you or someone you care for requires more information or assistance please check out the below list of Assistance and Crisis helplines.

For Emergencies ALWAY CONTACT 000


Police Assistance Line:

Victims Access Line:

  • >> 1800 633 063 (24-hour support for victims of crime)

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Support Services:

  • >> NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511 (24-hours)
  • >> ACT Mental Health Triage Crisis and Assessment Team: 1800 629 354
  • >> Western Australia Mental Health Emergency Response Line – Perth Metro: 1300 555 788
  • >> Western Australia Mental Health Emergency Response Line – Peel: 1800 676 822
  • >> Victoria Central East Crisis Assessment and Treatment Teams: 1300 721 927
  • >> Victoria Dandenong Crisis Assessment and Treatment Teams: 1300 369 012
  • >> Victoria Inner South Crisis Assessment and Treatment Teams: 1300 363 746
  • >> Victoria Middle South Crisis Assessment and Treatment Teams: 1300 369 012
  • >> Victoria North Eastern Crisis Assessment and Treatment Teams: 1300 859 789

LGBTIQ+

  • >> Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467 (24 hours)
  • >> Lifeline Counselling Service – 13 11 14 (24 hours)
  • >> Headspace –1800 650 890
  • >> Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800 (24 hours)

Autism Services:

  • >> Brother to Brother Crisis Support Line – 1800 435 799
  • >> National Indigenous Critical Response Service – 1800 805 801
  • >> National Indigenous Postvention Service (NIPS) – 1800 805 801
  • >> 13YARN – 13 92 76

Defence Support Services:

  • >> QLife  – 1800 184 527

For those with hearing or speech impairment:

  • >> Autism Connect – National Autism Helpline – 1300 308 699
  • >> Autism 24hr Hotline – 1300 222 777

Defence Support Services:

  • >> The Defence All-Hours Support Line – A confidential telephone and online service for ADF members and their families – 1800 628 036
  • >> Open Arms – 24-hour free and confidential counselling and support for current and former ADF members and their families – 1800 011 046

For those with hearing or speech impairment:

  • >> NRS Voice Relay – 1300 555 727
  • >> Teletypewriter (TTY) – 133 677
  • >> SMS Relay – 0423 677 767

For those requiring translation services:

  • >> Call TIS on 131 450 and ask them to ring the CATT number in their state.
Sarah Stewart, Mascot, Psych, ORS W

Sarah Stewart

General  Manager – Psychological Services

Clinical Psychologist, BA(Psych),BPsych(Hons) MClinPsych

To learn more about our amazing staff visit Our Expertise.