Despite the (expected) sunshine, we know the holiday season isn’t always a happy time for everyone,  especially if you’re disconnected from family and loved ones.

Whether 2017 was the best year yet, or one you’d rather forget, it’s important to remember to check in with yourself and those around you.

Here are some tips:

Surround yourself with supportive people

If this means spending the key dates with your favourite mates, then do that. There’s no rules – do whatever makes you feel good. If this is less of an option for you, BetterHealth Channel is a great resource for navigating tough conversations if you’re anxious about dealing with challenging situations during this time.

Think about getting involved with your local community

Volunteering at a charity event can be a great way to give back and connect with like-minded people. You could help out at a community lunch like  The Big Give, a free lunch for over 300 homeless people held at Fitzroy Town Hall, or Sacred Heart Mission’s Christmas lunch as part of its meals program, held in St Kilda. 

Check out local notice boards and community centres for other fun events happening in your area.

The Royal Botanic Gardens typically runs tours and/or free music on Christmas Day, and many neighbourhoods host street parties and open park picnics around December 31 – January 1. A change of routine and scenery can do the world of good.

Do your best to eat, rest and play well

All the buffets, big days and long nights can sure wear you down. We know it’s the silly season, but it’s always good to make time for healthy choices. Plan to fit in regular exercise, try and get a good amount of sleep, and take a rest from social media if you need to. These are all important elements of self-care, which ReachOut has some more awesome tips on.

Don’t put too much pressure on your one big ‘new beginning’

The age-old idea of a new year’s resolution can cause more anxiety than meaningful direction. Instead, think about reflecting on your goals, passions and ambitions more generally. You could write down one thing each day you’re grateful for, or write a bucket list that you can tick off at your own pace, year by year. Remember: December 31 is just a day, and 2018 has another 365 of them. 

Keep yourself and your mates safe

This time of year can get a bit risky, particularly when it comes to things like extreme weather conditions, driving long distances, late nights and public events. Be prepared – map your routes to and from home, know which transport you’ll use, pack for the seasons, and keep updated via emergency services and traffic authorities if your movements are out of the ordinary. Staying in touch with those close to you can also bring peace of mind, for you and for them. If you’re thinking of using drugs or alcohol, think about where you are, what mood you’re in, and who you’re with, how this might affect you and what you’ll do to keep you and your mates safe.  YoDAA provides free, unbiased drug and alcohol advice and can connect you with help if you need it. If there’s an emergency, call 000 immediately.

Getting help

If you’re feeling low, it can help to seek advice about your specific feelings and situation from professionals. Here are some of many amazing support services you can reach out to:

Kids helpline

Kids helpline is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We listen and care. Talking helps.

1800 55 1800 www.kidshelpline.com.au

headspace

National youth mental health foundation dedicated to improving the wellbeing of young Australians.

1800 650 890 www.headspace.org.au

beyondblue

beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.

(03) 9416 2889 www.beyondblue.org.au

Have a safe and healthy holiday, take care and look out for each other. And, if all you want for Christmas is a happier new year, then we sincerely hope your wish comes true.