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Group Chat
Summer holidays
December 18th 2018 @ 7pm AEDT
There are many reasons why the holiday period might not be as happy or joyous as we would like, it’s important to know how to cope with this, what you can do and how to look after yourself during this time of year.
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Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:03 pm
Hello everyone and welcome to today's group chat! My name is Rob and I am joined here today by my fellow mental health clinicians Katherine, Tasmin, and Lil. We are also happy to have a member of our hYNRG team Phoebe in with us today.
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:03 pm
Hi everyone! Thanks for joining us tonight. Looking forward to chatting everything self-care in prep for the holidays!
Lil - eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:04 pm
Hi everyone! Welcome to this evening's group chat!
Tas eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:04 pm
Hey I'm Tas! Welcome! Looking forward to chatting :)
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:04 pm
We value everyone’s contribution to today’s group chat and we ask that we all respect each others perspectives and ideas though they may vary from our own. The more voices we have creates a richer discussion and we all benefit from this.
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:06 pm
Today we will be discussing holiday self care. The holiday period can be a time for relaxing, exploring and reuniting with extended family and friends, it can also be stressful or anxiety provoking; leaving us feeling down and unsettled. You might feel stressed because you’re spending more time with family than usual, you might be missing your friends you usually see more often, there might be events you have to attend where you feel uncomfortable, you might be bored or you might find that old patterns of behaviour emerge.
There are many reasons why the holiday period might not be as happy or joyous as we would like, it’s important to know how to cope with this, what you can do and how to look after yourself during this time of year
Pheobe hY NRG
Participant
18 Dec. 7:07 pm
Hi everyone! I am Pheobe from the headspace National Reference Group (hY NRG), a group that helps advocates for the mental health of young people across Australia. I am also part of the headspace Fremantle Youth Reference Group in Perth :)
Anonymous 6061
Participant
18 Dec. 7:07 pm
Hello
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:09 pm
Here we have a question sent into us before the chat started, which you can do via email.
How to handle family members pressuring you into things like Kris Kringle? I'm living far away to protect my mental health. Feeling like I don't want to be involved at all, cause family has been so messed up. Then made to feel guilty for not wanting to be involved. How to cope?
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:10 pm
Thanks for this question! I’m sorry to hear you’re having a tough time at the moment - protecting your own mental health and managing the pressure resulting your family’s expectations. The holiday season can be really tricky because of the added pressure of societal, cultural and familial expectations of happily spending time family, though we know that this not always the case, and not necessarily a helpful, positive thing for everyone. I think finding a balance, or a compromise here, is the best way to go. It might be nice to join in some of the Christmas activities with your family – you never know, it could be a positive step forward in repairing any ‘mess’, tension or conflict. However, it’s important to put your needs on the table too, and consider your own mental health and wellbeing. I am wondering if you can pre-empt which activities would be most suitable to attend and how much you can manage. Lastly, no need to feel guilty, it’s great you’re thinking about the best way to work Christmas related activities. I hope if you spend some time with your family at Christmas, it is enjoyable and your family appreciate your effort. And if you decide not to spend time with your family, to do something nice for yourself or spend time with someone you get along with, on Christmas day.
Pheobe hY NRG
Participant
18 Dec. 7:21 pm
Yes, I completely agree with Katherine- the holiday season can be super tricky- and in the past, I have also had some conflict with family. But, I have found that putting yourself first is important. I would do what was good for me through my self-care strategies, and try to focus more on the positives (i.e., being grateful for having the support and love of friends, etc.). Once I was in a bit of a better headspace, I would then try to communicate how I felt to other family members so we could have a mutual understanding of how each other was thinking or feeling. I initially found it hard to talk about how I felt to my family members, but found that talking to my psychologist for support was also very helpful in trying to figure out and role-play what to say to my family!
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:21 pm
Pheobe hY NRG
Participant
18 Dec. 7:21 pm
In my personal experience, the holiday period can sometimes be stressful, which is why self-care during this period is super important. The holiday season was very different to going to school or university everyday, which broke my usual routine and made me anxious. Having more time to socialise with friends and family also meant there were more social situations with lots of food and people and having to socialise. I noticed that this was something that happened every year, and so several years back, I spoke to my psychologist about a plan I could have in place to help me out. The plan included things I could do for self-care- such as yoga, going for a walk with friends, going to the beach, knitting, and many others. I was then able to settle into a comfortable routine from the holidays which then made me feel less stressed out and anxious!
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:20 pm
Thanks for sharing your experience Pheobe! They are really great ideas, I think I'll give some of them a go too!
Anonymous 6061
Participant
18 Dec. 7:20 pm
Are we able to ask a question?
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:20 pm
Hi Anonymous 6061, welcome! Yes please go ahead. We are responding to all the questions coming in, so it may take a little while to see your question and the eheadspace team’s response – just so you know!
Maddie
Participant
18 Dec. 7:20 pm
I’ve been invited to a Christmas eve party, a family thing on Christmas day and a party on new years eve and a bbq the next day. This is just too many things for me to do in such a short time. How can I nicely say no without anyone getting mad at me?
Tas eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:20 pm
Christmas and new year can be a crazy time for sure! And it can feel like we are being pulled in so many different directions! When things are feeling overwhelming, it’s important that we can look after ourselves prioritise the things that are most important to us.
It can be hard to say no sometimes.. but kind and clear communication is important. You can clearly express how you are feeling about going to an event, and explain why you’ve had to say no. I can imagine whoever you talk to about this will understand – they are probably feeling pulled in 100 different directions too at this time of year!
If some of these functions are family events and your parents are expecting you to be there, maybe try having a discussion with your parents about how overwhelming this time is making you feel. Remember, it is meant to be the season of joy, so make it joyful for yourself...try to reduce the pressure.
Pheobe hY NRG
Participant
18 Dec. 7:25 pm
Something I would also do to look out for myself over the festive period was to plan in advance the events I was happy to go to, and how long I was happy to go for. Say I had two Christmas parties one day after each other, and I felt a bit more exhausted the next day- I would then nicely tell the host that I had to get home because I was getting a bit tired, but thank them for having me and their hospitality.
Try looking at it a different way- if you were the host for a Christmas party, and one of your guests said they had to leave for other commitments, how would you respond? Many hosts would thank their guests for coming and wish them a happy festive season :)
Anonymous 6061
Participant
18 Dec. 7:25 pm
Do I ask on here or somewhere else?
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:25 pm
Yup, whenever you're ready :)
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:25 pm
Anonymous 2030
Participant
18 Dec. 7:25 pm
Last holidays were a lot of fun, got to see friends and hang out, but by the end of them I felt more tired then I did at the start and it made it really hard going back to school. Should I not see my friends as much? What can I do?
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:25 pm
That’s great to hear that your last holidays were an enjoyable time. It is what most of us intend to spend the time relaxing or enjoying ourselves. There are many different ways that we will go about that, so it’s nice when we can find people who also do the same. Gives us that feeling of social connection.
Though sometimes we can indulge quite a lot because opportunity abounds. Though of course we do want to be enjoying ourselves, this can also lead to us over doing it, so to speak. The more obvious examples would be around drugs and alcohol, as they have an obvious carry over effect depending on how much we do have. This can mean we spend a great amount of our time recovering from this, or the recovery time can bleed over into post-holiday time. That can leave us feeling quite worn out, even overall less healthy than at the start.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be drugs and alcohol too, just trying to fit more into the time than the time allows for harmoniously can be exhausting. So it’s important that we take that into account, listen to our bodies as we go, make time to do that overall recovery that can be really helpful post holidays and there are many ways to consider doing that.
Isaac
Participant
18 Dec. 7:28 pm
I’m a bit anxious about spending time with my family. We get on just fine, it’s just that I don’t really know what to do or what to say sometimes and then I start to spiral from there. But it’s not like we fight or anything, it’s weird.
Lil - eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:28 pm
Thanks for your question Isaac - I think a lot of young people feel the same as you. Social anxiety is common and most people experience it to some degree. If we believed everything we saw in adverts we'd think that Christmas holidays are full of laughing families, seemingly unable to get enough of being around each other as they celebrate the holidays. Realistically this is often not the case and we can feel awkward, anxious and uncomfortable.
Remember that older members of your family were your age once and they might have felt the same, so you could even try talking to someone you are close to prior to big family events (such as a sibling or an aunt/uncle or parent) about the feelings you're experiencing. Sharing the burden of difficult emotions can sometimes lift a weight off your shoulders.
Try to remember that your family love you - no-one is testing you, you don't need to impress anyone. Just be yourself, try to find a common ground to talk about so that you can express genuine interest in discussions. Making a game plan before social scenarios can help - make eye contact, smile, ask questions and answer questions. Try not to give yourself a hard time -you might not always be able to find common ground with someone, especially a family member you haven't seen for a while. But that's OK, you're only human!
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:29 pm
Pheobe hY NRG
Participant
18 Dec. 7:33 pm
I think not knowing what to say sometimes to others, including family members, is something completely understandable and experienced by many young people! I agree with Lil, sometimes going in with a bit of a game plan into social situations and gatherings may help alleviate your anxiety slightly. I've found in the past that bringing along some card or board games can be a great way to get everyone talking with each other without as much pressure, as you are all focused on playing the game instead of having to think about what to talk about, or to maintain eye contact, etc. I used to bring a pack of cards of UNO and Monopoly to social gatherings with friends and family which I thought helped!
Ebony
Participant
18 Dec. 7:33 pm
Hi! I’ve been feeling super unproductive ever since graduating and recently the feeling has come back. I really want to get a job but I’m nervous no one will hire me. What should I do?
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:34 pm
Hey Ebony! Congratulations on graduating! The transition from finishing up your studies into the holidays and pre-applying for jobs can be tricky, it can be quite a big sudden change. First, it’s important to take a break and to enjoy the holiday period. It can feel a bit hard to slow down and switch off after studying for final exams or working hard to complete final assignments. You deserve a break and it’s important for your mental health and wellbeing and putting you in a good headspace for the next chapter of your life. I totally get that it can feel a bit daunting when you’re writing resumes and applying for positions, particularly the anticipation of the uncertainty around where and when you will land your first gig. Keep in mind, for almost everyone, it does take some time! You might be interested in checking our Digital Work and Study Service, who provide a mentoring and support service in this area. They can assist you with creating a winning resume, career planning, job searching and interview preparation. Check out their website here: https://headspace.org.au/young-people/digital-work-and-study-program/
Anonymous 6061
Participant
18 Dec. 7:35 pm
How am I meant to accept gifts and everything if I feel like I don’t deserve any of it and how can I be around my family when I feel like that and feel like they deserve much more from me?
Tas eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:35 pm
Thanks so much for sending that question. I think it’s great that you’re thinking about how giving at Christmas can be about giving time and energy to the people around you as well as gifts.
Receiving gifts can be a really strange experience, especially if we’re not used to showing love and care to one another in that way. It’s important to think beyond the gift itself sometimes, and to focus on the meaning behind it. If someone gives a gift, that is really them saying that they value you and care about you. Try to remember that!
And it sounds like it’s important to you to be showing your family that you care about them too! If you are not able to give a gift, have a think about some other ways you could show that you care. It could be doing some dishes, or asking someone a question to understand them better, or saying thanks for a gift that you’ve received.
If you’d like to chat about this question a bit more in terms of your own family, feel free to log on for a webchat and chat 1-on-1 with someone at eheadspace.
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:36 pm
Thomas
Participant
18 Dec. 7:36 pm
I sometimes get anxious and stressed about what I am doing on the holidays, like maybe other people or my friends are doing something more fun than me and that I’m not there for whatever reason. Like I don’t want to miss out.
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:36 pm
Fear of missing out
FOMO, as some people call it, or the fear of missing out. It’s a lingering comparison thought that whatever you’re doing right now isn’t as good as what someone else is or might be doing. It can be anxiety sort of thought too as it plays on hypothetical situations, what other people might be doing. It can even feel like a depressive related thought when there might be sadness, loneliness, maybe even a feeling of isolation that comes from it.
Much like with other anxiety thoughts, thought and perspective challenging could be one to consider. Like challenging these hypothetical situations that we are comparing to our current situation. Maybe even some reality testing on our current circumstances too.
Another way to counter it would be acknowledgement, assessment, and action. Recognising how you feel at first, what it is you feel you would change, and figuring out how to reach that goal actively. For instance, if you were hoping to be more social, then recognising how that desire makes you feel when you aren’t reaching this expectation, the different ways we could engage with more people.
Anonymous 6061
Participant
18 Dec. 7:38 pm
Thank you for your responses. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas!
Tas eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:38 pm
Merry Christmas to you too! All the best with it :)
Anonymous 6061
Participant
18 Dec. 7:39 pm
Thank you :)
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:41 pm
Anonymous 1198
Participant
18 Dec. 7:42 pm
I don’t really have any plans for the holidays so I’m not really sure what I’m going to do.
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:42 pm
It can feel a bit overwhelming and uncertain Anonymous 1198! Thanks for touching base with us. I'm sure there are lots of others out there who are feeling a similar way too. One thing that school can provide for us that outside of learning is a structure to our lives. So when that is interrupted, it can cause a little bit of difficulty for us as well. One smaller way we can make the holidays a bit of an easier time is to introduce temporary structure or routine. It could be smaller sorts of things like what time of day we eat, or have a shower, or engage in a hobby we like. Then it can have bigger things that fit in with it, like plans with friends, or travel, things that go for a day or longer. If we allow for them to be flexible at the same time, because sometimes plans can change, then it makes it a bit easier during the length of the holiday. It allows us to know what we are going to do, or what we plan on doing, making the time more predictable. It also gives us a sense of achievement too, because once we have done those things we can look back on them and see time that was spent constructively. How you spend that time is up to you!
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:42 pm
Here’s a holiday self-care check list that might be of interest to you - • Enjoy the company of others, but take time for yourself. • Connect with the environment and spend time outside. • Eat well, not eat more. • Take a break from alcohol. • Make space and take the time to remember and grieve ones you miss. • Make room for spontaneity and find ways to create some routine. • Find new activities that bring you joy and new ways to relax. • Sleep well. • Take a break from ‘the socials’. • Stay connected and catch up with friends. • Create new traditions. • Set goals for the new year, or find new realistic expectations. • Be grateful, don’t take for granted the good that is in your life right now.
Pheobe hY NRG
Participant
18 Dec. 7:45 pm
Yes, self-care is super important! I think a good start for me would always be to make a list of things that I'd like to do or accomplish over the summer break- they can be personal goals, trying new things, or anything at all! And sometimes I think just taking a day out doing nothing is good to practice mindfulness, and being able to sit there and be comfortable with not doing anything. Sometimes I think we get so caught up and busy in our lives we forget to take a moment to pause and breathe- so having some days where we do nothing is perfectly okay :)
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:46 pm
Joseph
Participant
18 Dec. 7:49 pm
I have been living interstate this year and I’m not able to go home for Christmas because I can’t get time off work. I’m really worried about how I will cope with this. I have some friends who have said I can join them for Christmas, but I don’t want them to feel like they have to include me. How do other people cope with feeling homesick at Christmas?
Tas eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:49 pm
Thanks for the question, Joseph! Wow, I can imagine that would be really hard to face your first Christmas in a new state. It sounds perfectly understandable that you’d be feeling homesick at this time – there can certainly be a sense of loss about not being able to participate in old traditions how you used to. There’s nothing that will take that feeling away completely, so it’s important to recognise that and reassure yourself that it’s perfectly normal to feel sad, disappointed and homesick about not being able to go home.
I think it could be important to try and re-frame things a bit for yourself.. just because you have a sense of loss about some old traditions doesn’t mean that you can’t find some joy in some new ones. You could try tell yourself things like: “Just because I’ve always celebrated Christmas in this way doesn’t mean I’m locked into that forever – I can make some choices about how to make this year meaningful even though it won’t be exactly what I want.” You could also try to re-frame your friend’s invite. Perhaps they’ve invited you not because they feel like they have to include you, but because they would really like to spend Christmas with you!
Other than trying to re-frame things – try to organise a skype date with your family during an important tradition. Maybe you can all open your presents together via skype? Maybe you can all chat before they eat? It’s also helpful to let them know how disappointed you are that you can’t join them this year, and they might have ideas about what they can do to make this year special for you too.
All the best with finding meaning in some different ways this Christmas!
Pheobe hY NRG
Participant
18 Dec. 7:53 pm
Yes, I agree with Tas, it is compeltely normal to have these sorts of feelings of homesickness- but there are other things we can do such as re-framing the situation as Tas has mentioned. When I was younger my dad would work away as well because of his job, but the rest of my family and myself would make sure we scheduled in weekly phone calls and Skype sessions to keep in touch. Also remember that not being in physical contact with them does not mean that they think of you differently or love you any less. Everyone has different commitments, and sometimes it is not possible to be at two different places at once! You may perhaps try spending time with friends where youa re living as well over this Christmas period- and you will still be able to have an enjoyable Christmas people people who care about and support you :)
Anon
Participant
18 Dec. 7:53 pm
usually i stress a lot but when im at school it distracts me but now that its the holidays i dont have much to distract myself
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:53 pm
Thanks for sharing that with us Anon. I would definitely reinforce the self care ideas that the clinicians before me have written about for dealing with stress. Distraction can be a part of that, a way of diverting our attention from the stress allowing it to pass. Then further ideas that can create a sense of calm that can counter the stress like mindfulness exercises.
And then beyond that would be engaging with what you feel is the source of the stress, discussing it with others like maybe friends, parents, professionals like us, and figuring out ways to create change in that source.
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:53 pm
Suzan
Participant
18 Dec. 7:54 pm
I don’t live near my friends so I mostly just see them at school cause it’s hard to see them out of school. Now that holidays have started I’m not going to see them for ages. I don’t know how I will cope.
Lil - eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 7:54 pm
Hey Suzan. Living far away from our friends sucks! It can leave us feeling lonely and isolated. So what can we do to lessen these feelings and is there anything we should avoid doing which can make them worse...
Participating in hobbies or activities you enjoy are a great way to spend holiday time. Perhaps you can use this an opportunity to learn a new skill? Are there any clubs or volunteering opportunities you can get involved in where you might meet some new friends in the local community?
Create a list of distraction activities in anticipation of feeling lonely - you could include things like exercise, walking the dog, listening to music/making playlists...
If you're feeling lonely and sad, don't keep it to yourself. Try talking to your family - they might not realise you are experiencing these feelings if you don't tell them. You can also contact a support service such as eheadspace.
Social media can be a fantastic way of keeping in touch with friends, making us feel supported and part of a community...but on the flip side it can also give us a big dose of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) as we see our friends participating in social events without us. In our desire to feel constantly connected to our friends, we end up seeing a 'highlight reel' of their lives - leaving us feeling that ours are boring in comparison. If you know that you can't see your friends during the holidays, try limit your social media use so that you can focus on what you are doing in the present moment, rather than worrying about what others are doing without you.
Anonymous 7307
Participant
18 Dec. 8:01 pm
Im not getting on with my parents at the moment and feel judged whenever I go into "public" areas in my house. So instead I've been mainly staying in my room. This makes me feel cooped up but I also find it hard to go out and do things by myself (outside of the house). What can I do to feel less jailed and go out more?
Anonymous 7873
Participant
18 Dec. 8:01 pm
At home it's just me and mum. She's a school teacher, so on the holidays we're with each other a lot, which can cause problems. We seem to butt heads a lot when we're with each other too much. I don't get a lot of chances to get out of the house either, which makes things harder. What advice would you have for me to make these holidays smoother with my mum?
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 8:01 pm
Thanks for joining in the conversation Anon7307 and Anon7873. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I’m sorry to hear things are tough at the moment at home. The holidays often mean more time at home and more time with your family, which can be difficult when you’re not quite clicking with your parents. It can be a stressful time for everyone including parents! It might be helpful to browse through these resources about managing conflict with your family. Perhaps if you both felt the ‘air was cleared’, you would feel more comfortable and confident to be at home with your family over the holiday period. Check them out here: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/family-conflict https://ie.reachout.com/inform-yourself/family-and-friends/family-relationships/conflict-with-your-parents-or-guardians/ https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/healthy-homes/resolving-family-conflict Good luck and take care of yourselves!
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 8:04 pm
One more thing Anon7307, it’s okay to have some low key days and spend time in your room and house. You can always try new things inside the comfort of your own house, like mindfulness, watching some netflix/movies, reading a book, writing, learning some new, cleaning your room, etc. But it is also a good thing to push yourself, gently, to get out of the house as well. Feel free to start small, like - go for a walk or grab a coffee/tea from a local café. Perhaps you can organise to catch up with a friend in the next few days, you could play some sport in a park, go to the movies, or go for a drive/catch a bus to a new place or suburb.

A balance between getting out of the house and having some low key days is important.

Have a look at these activities for some more ideas: https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/CCI/Mental%20Health%20Professionals/Depression/Depression%20-%20Information%20Sheets/Depression%20Information%20Sheet%20-%2006%20-%20Fun%20Activities%20Catalogue.pdf
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 8:02 pm
That does bring us to the end of our group chat tonight. Thank you to Pheobe for joining us from hYNRG, clinicians that have responded and all of you for your questions and experiences.
Lil - eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 8:02 pm
Thanks for all of your questions this evening, we really enjoyed answering them and I hope they are helpful. Take care of yourselves, bye!
Katherine eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 8:02 pm
Thanks so much for joining the convo tonight everyone! Take care of yourselves as well as your friends and families over the holiday season.
Tas eheadspace
Moderator
18 Dec. 8:02 pm
Thanks for logging on! All the best for the holidays! Take care :)
Anonymous 7873
Participant
18 Dec. 8:03 pm
Thanks Katherine :)