The Christmas period is often a challenging time for many people. But 2020 will be one like no other.
Due to restrictions easing and end of year festivities beginning, many of us are feeling obligated to schedule catch ups with family and friends. But after being so isolated for the majority of the year, a suddenly busy schedule of social engagements can be quite overwhelming and exhausting.
Stepping back into ‘normal life’ may even sharpen our awareness of the losses we’ve experienced throughout the year - confidence, motivation, relationships, security, finances or even the lives of loved ones. So it’s no surprise that many people will also be feeling nervous, anxious, lost or lonely.
After such a difficult year, it is important to ensure you maintain balance and don’t burn yourself out. We’ll share some ideas with you, to lighten your mental load, reduce stress and anxiety, help you ease your way back into a social life with friends and to survive the Christmas lunch with family.
We hope you have a safe and peaceful holiday period!
If we can draw at least one positive from the year of 2020, it’s that mental health is finally getting some of the understanding and recognition it deserves. It’s been somewhat easier to have open and frank conversations about how we’re going, thanks to the shared experiences of the pandemic. The stigma of mental health is slowly being broken down.
If you have a loved friend or family member who you know is not travelling so well, make sure you check in with them over the Christmas period and let them know you’re there for them. Also, if you’re considering getting them a gift, think about giving them something that will support their mental health. You may even like to consider these gifts for yourself because we all need to treat ourselves after the year we’re all had. Check out our great ideas below.
We’re a little biased but we think that a session of laser therapy is a wonderful gift for someone struggling with their mental health. We are passionate about using the innovative technology of photobiomodulation to support conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, ADHD and more. Usually we would recommend multiple targeted sessions for the most effective support but did you know that we offer ‘systemic treatments’ which can potentially assist with relaxation after just one session? It involves placing one of our tools on your wrist for a short period of time to allow light to penetrate your body’s systems and to give you a boost of energy or to help you relax.
Journaling is a fantastic strategy to support and maintain mental health. Putting thoughts onto paper can be a great way to relieve emotional and mental burdens. Journaling can help clarify thoughts and ideas, as well as assist in the development of reflection and expression. These may be important first steps and skills for someone who is hesitant about seeking professional help. Journaling can also help identify patterns of thought and behaviour, enabling assessment of how positive or negative one’s mindset or self talk might be. Reading over past thoughts and experiences may also lead to the recognition of potential triggers. Although it is beneficial to add to the journal daily, there are no rules to journaling.
We love these handmade journals from The Boho Suitcase in Geelong. To make you feel extra good about the purchase, each product has a homegrown, recycled, repurposed element to them. Good for you, good for the world.
Self-talk is a significantly influential factor when it comes to one’s mental health. Negative self-talk can have a compounding detrimental effect, but positive self-talk can have a compounding effect of empowerment. Once someone is able to think consistently positively and is able to act as a champion for themselves, they can begin to believe and embody the positive messages they are receiving. While it can be hard to break the pattern of thinking negatively, it is possible. For assistance with shifting to a positive mindset, it can be helpful to be surrounded by positive messages to read, repeat and eventually believe.
We love these beautiful quote cards from ByTanya, a Geelong local artist. And to make the purchase even better, a percentage of her profit is donated to The Tolle Foundation which was inspired by her own experience with anxiety.
Our lives are hectic. Each day seems to get busier and busier. There are work commitments to fulfill, family relationships to nurture, a house to clean and maintain, a social life to engage in, a healthy body to preserve and if you’re lucky, personal interests to pursue. For many of us, it all gets quite stressful and overwhelming and we find that there are rarely many opportunities to stop, to be still, to be mindful and to let go. Shannon Bowman, the Director of Create Balance Psychotherapy and Counselling has had a very busy year, with the business growing rapidly, the launch of a new sister business and a toddler at home. His choice of self-care has been to book himself in for a ‘float’, allowing his body and mind to unwind in a spacious tank filled with salt water.
Shannon loves The Wellness Studio in Geelong, who state that, “Floatation decreases stress hormones, replenishes neurotransmitters, and releases endorphins. The unique environment encourages deep relaxation and provides a zen-like afterglow that can last for days.”
With so much time spent indoors this year, we’re all craving some time amongst nature. Perhaps it’s not just because it’s “anywhere but home” but it may also be because studies have shown that spending time in green spaces has a positive influence on mental health. Not only have plants been shown to boost self esteem, lower stress, improve memory and increase creativity but there have been studies that indicate beneficial outcomes for people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD and dementia. So why not bring more plants into our homes?
We love the amazing plants available at The Forest Collection, a local Geelong business. Our favourite plant is the Snake Plant. Not only is it super duper easy to care for but as The Forest Collection states, they “aid in cleaning the air by removing toxins and replacing oxygen! They also continue to produce loads of oxygen through the night, unlike a lot of other plants.” What a champion plant.
The sense of smell is closely linked to memory. We’ve probably all had the experience of being transported through time and space with a particular scent - maybe it was the smell of ginger biscuits taking you to your grandmother’s house or the smell of sun baked gumleaves taking you to your favourite camping spot. So why not use that ‘super power’ to regularly transport yourself to your happy place. A scented candle can be a great way of doing that. If you’re not able to find a candle with the scent of ‘sun baked gumleaves,’ consider consciously linking a chosen scent with joyful experiences. First choose a scent, such a lavender which is known to have a calming effect, and then burn the candle while you do something you enjoy, such as taking a bath or reading your favourite book. After doing this regularly, you can use the scent as a strategy to calm or lift yourself during times of stress, anxiety or depression.
We love the candles from Shirley J Collection, which are handcrafted in Armstrong Creek.
Exercise plays an important role in maintaining balanced mental health. It releases chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin that improve mood and are great for relieving stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression. But for many, the idea of ‘going for a run’ is not an appealing thought. However, it’s important to remember that there are so many different ways of being active and so many activities that won’t even feel like the slog of exercise.
We love the idea of grabbing a friend and getting over to Geelong’s The Rock Adventure Centre and Industry Boulders. Climbing and bouldering doesn’t involve continuous strenuous activity, which appeals to us. There are lots of breaks for problem solving between bursts of big effort. We also love that we can achieve a huge sense of accomplishment by climbing to the top of a wall, for example.
Many mental health conditions, such as anxiety, bi-polar, PTSD and addiction, come with persistent, chaotic and negative thinking. And it can be hard to drown out the noise. However the creativity and concentration involved in completing a craft activity can help to create a calm and focused mind. The repetitive nature of many craft activities can even feel meditative. When finished, there can be a great sense of accomplishment and a big boost to one’s self esteem.
We love Geelong’s Hooray Hoop and their beautiful embroidery. We’d love to stitch a positive affirmation or a symbol of hope onto a hoop, to always remind us of our aspirations.
Comment below if you have any other great gift ideas to support mental health!