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Tips for self-care over the Christmas holidays...& every day

Posted in 1. Mental health resources @ Dec 20th 2018 - By Dr Nadine Hamilton, Love Your Pet Love Your Vet & Positive Psych Solutions
Tips For Self Care Over The Christmas Holidays Every Other Day

This time of the year can be tough for many people.

Looking after ourselves is crucial if we want to maintain a healthy level of wellbeing - that doesn’t just mean physically, but psychologically as well.  Typically, the Christmas period can be a stressful and lonely time of year for many people, and it’s not uncommon to see a lot of mental health issues rearing their heads around this time. 

So what can we do to try and look after ourselves during this time? 

Here are a few of my favourite tips:

Don’t overdo it

Make sure you aren’t drinking or eating to excess, which can exacerbate other issues (particularly alcohol, which is actually a depressant!).  Feeling lousy with a bonus hangover really isn’t likely to help with your wellbeing.

Make sure you get enough sleep

Sleep is imperative to healthy functioning, and for our bodies to recover and repair themselves.  Eating spicy or rich foods, drinking caffeine or alcoholic beverages, and even exercising later in the evening, have been shown to affect the quality of sleep. 

Try to set yourself a healthy and functional sleep routine and stick to it. That means, having a ‘wind-down’ routine in the evening (or reverse this if you are a shift worker). Dim the lights for a while before bedtime, and switch off those phones and tablets. Aim to undertake quiet, relaxing activities at this time - such as reading a nice book (not a drama or crime book though!), or something enjoyable on tv - even taking a bath or doing some journaling. The idea is to switch your body into ‘sleep’ mode so that the melatonin (sleep chemical) starts to kick in and get you ready for bed. 

Roughly every 90 minutes you may notice you feel sleepy - this is the time to head to bed, as you are likely to fall asleep more easily than when you are not sleepy.

Say ‘no'

If you really don’t feel up to going out to a party or having loads of mates over to your place, or you are feeling like you are being asked to go to one social event after the next, then say no if you know it will not benefit you in the long run. Feeling exhausted isn’t going to help, and may even end up making you feel resentful.

Recognise your stressors and symptoms

Get to know what makes you stressed, anxious, or even depressed and how you feel when these symptoms start to kick in.  Taking a proactive approach is much better than being reactive!

Do stuff you enjoy

Take time to do activities you enjoy (so long as they are safe, healthy, and legal!) - scheduling in enjoyable activities regularly is one of the great ways to help with your psychological wellbeing.

Meditation, mindfulness & deep breathing

Invest your time in meditation, mindfulness, and/or deep breathing. There are loads of free and paid apps available, or you could look up some reputable YouTube channels and find something that works well for you. Keeping your body calm and relaxed can definitely help with stress and anxiety.

Speak up

If you find that you are struggling, don’t suffer in silence. Speak up to a trusted friend, colleague, family member, or a health practitioner who is qualified to help you - your GP can be a good place to start.

Having at least one quality relationship can also help - one person who you know you can turn to if and when you need to. Social support is said to be a protective factor for good mental health. Have a list of contact numbers for self-help organisations, so if you need to call someone you have their details on-hand.

Practice gratitude

Give thanks for the good things in your life, and the good things about you. In the midst of getting caught up and ‘buying into’ all the negative stuff, don’t lose sight of the good stuff that’s still there - it’s often just buried beneath all the psychological smog and you just need to dig your way through to uncover it.

Need to talk to someone now?

Lifeline (131 114)

MensLine (1300 789 978)

beyondblue (1300 224 636)

SuicideLine (1300 651 251)

Kids Helpline (1800 551 800)

SANE Australia (1800 187 263)

Emergency Services (000)

About Nadine

Dr Nadine Hamilton is a psychologist who spent over six years researching veterinarian wellbeing at a doctoral level. Her research investigated why the rate of suicide in this profession is so high as well as developing an evidence-based psycho-educational intervention program. Nadine has since commenced new doctoral research (PhD) to extend her research into veterinary wellbeing and works exclusively with the veterinary profession.

Positive Psych Solutions is her boutique psychology practice that is also home to the revolutionary intervention program "The Coping & Wellbeing Program for Veterinary Professionals". 

Early in 2018, Nadine also launched her charity 'Love Your Pet Love Your Vet' that aims to raise awareness of veterinary wellbeing, reduce stigma in veterinary professionals seeking help, as well as providing support for all who work in the veterinary industry.

          

 

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