Woman and child in pool

The holiday period can be a challenging time for some – and far from the joyous and relaxing occasion it’s cracked up to be.

All too often there can be pressure to ‘holiday’ a certain way, particularly in the period leading up to festivities and on the day itself.

When faced with using our downtime to meet certain expectations, a holiday can be a stressful time and the opposite of what we need – an opportunity to take a break and recharge our mental battery.

Joanne Turner, Manager of Psychological Services at Allianz, suggests there are certain rules of thumb that, when applied, can create a mentally healthy holiday and a satisfying period of rest and reinvigoration.

1/ Do what’s good for you

Let’s face it, holidays are different for everybody. So you need to allow yourself to have a break that looks like what you want it to look like, not like somebody else’s version of a break.

Some people might just want to do some gardening, others want to head to the beach with their kids. If that’s your idea of a break– if it’s therapeutic for you – then that’s what you should prioritise.

If you can remove the expectation of living up to some ideal of what a holiday should be, you might remove a large source of anxiety.

2/ Don’t feel the need to compare your holiday with others

Holidays can be a lonely time. When you think about the festive season, there can be a tremendous build-up to what is just one day and that can be trying for some people.

Certain individuals hide the fact they’re not as busy as others – perhaps they haven’t got plans or they haven’t got someone to visit so they put up a facade. Other people may put on a big song and dance for the festive celebrations but, at the end of the day, maybe it’s not as enjoyable for them as they like to portray.

A mentally healthy holiday is one in which you’re comfortable with your own plans and don’t feel the need to justify them to others.

3/ There’s no need to ‘embrace the season'

Some people dread the holiday season. The shopping can be intense and then there’s the invitation to parties and other social events. With the restrictions during COVID, people have generally got used to their own company or the company of their partner or family. And now they have to re-learn how to socialise.

Let’s not forget that some people have done it tough these last couple of years and that there can be financial pressures associated with buying presents and attending social events.

Be mindful of your personal comfort levels and get involved in as much – or as little – of the holiday season as you wish.

4/ Be honest with friends and family – and yourself

It’s always a good idea to be honest with friends and family about how you’re feeling. They may be feeling the same way. If you’re honest with someone, it can help them feel more compassionate. And it can invite them to be more honest with you in return.

It can be very useful to keep a journal – either during a holiday period or at any other time. When you know no-one else is going to see it, it can encourage you to be upfront with yourself about your feelings. It can also help you keep track of how long you’ve been feeling a certain way.

At the same time, the thoughts contained in that journal can be something you can use to talk with someone – a mental health professional or a friend, for example – if you wish to.

5/ Keep the holiday feeling going

It can be helpful to think of ways to apply holiday-inspired behaviours and habits all year round. Your brain really likes novelty, so it’s always a great idea to implement little changes here and there.

This can be something as simple as introducing some colour – perhaps some flowers – to your workspace. Or changing things up such as sitting at a different spot while you’re working.

Having your brain look at or perceive things differently can work wonders for your mindset.

For more tips and advice on how to 'Reclaim Your Home' this holiday season, visit https://allianz.com.au/reclaimyourhome

This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL234708 (“Allianz”). Information contained in this article is accurate as at 02 December 2021 and may be subject to change. In some cases information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way. Any opinions expressed constitute our views at the time of the issue and are subject to change. Neither Allianz, nor its employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy or accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this article.