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23 Dec 2018

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that making plans, being organised, and managing your physical and emotional health can reduce stress and make Christmas and New Year a positive time for your mental health.

Dr Bartone said that the holiday season can be the most mentally stressful time of the year.

“There is a lot to do at Christmas, especially if family members are returning home from interstate or overseas,” Dr Bartone said.

“Pressure and stress can build up due to housing more people, shopping, cooking, entertaining, or travelling. This can place severe pressure on people, which can lead to symptoms of anxiety, anger, and difficulty sleeping.

“The key is to get organised and delegate the jobs where possible.

“If things do get difficult, visit your GP for advice on how to get everything done and maximise your enjoyment of the holiday season,” Dr Bartone said.

The AMA has some basic advice for a mentally healthy festive season:

Sleep and relaxation:

Partying, seeing in the New Year, drinking and having a good time is what many people do, but the evidence shows that your mental health and well-being improve with quality sleeping and relaxation time. Routine sleeping patterns alleviate stress. And remember to relax – nap, read a book, watch some TV, go to a movie, do the crossword or sudoku, or reacquaint yourself with the comfy chair.


Physical activity releases endorphins and boosts serotonin, which helps you relax and improve your wellbeing and mood. Undertaking simple tasks such as walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, Pilates, or gym workouts reduces anxiety, leads to decreased depression, and improves your mental and physical health. If you have a dog, take it for a walk – you’ll both appreciate it.

Everything in moderation:

Eat, drink, and be merry, but do so in moderation. Alcohol is a known depressant. Drink in moderation, and always adhere to the recommended drinking guidelines. And while you’re counting your drinks, count your calories too. Doctors recommend following a well-balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, and proteins. Drink plenty of water (all the time), and exercise after indulging. 

Keep calm and carry on with family gatherings:

The holiday season is known as the ‘time for family’ but this too can be stressful, with expectations and demands creating additional stress and anxiety. It is very important that we are all aware of our own wellbeing and take time out to relax, de-stress, take a walk, have a cuppa, play some music – do things that alleviate anxiety and help everyone get along. Remember, headphones were invented for a reason.

Travel, don’t unravel:

Travelling to Christmas functions is a major cause of stress. If you haven’t booked in advance, then be realistic about your options. Allow plenty of time if you’re driving, and do not rush. Remember, cold food can wait for you. Be considerate of other road users and remember to stop and take regular breaks if driving long distances.

Do good:

Helping other people is good for your own mental health and wellbeing. Helping people and volunteering reduces stress and improves mood and self-esteem. Consider volunteering for your local charity or locally-run Christmas party. Doing good is good for your mental health.

23 December 2018

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Published: 23 Dec 2018