But is it really the season to be jolly?
Christmas is meant to be a happy time, with parties to attend, family and friends to socialise with and gifts to give and receive. It’s a time when families and friends gather together to wish each other well and spend time celebrating the passing of another year.
But it’s not like that in real life for everyone, especially since Covid landed on our shores and restrictions on gatherings have been in place. Issues such as financial strain, family conflict ... where there are uncomfortable feelings present, and the lonely feelings associated with a sense of isolation, are common for many Australians at this time of year. For many, there is little to celebrate during the festive season, especially for those who have lost a loved one and this can lead to what's known as seasonal loneliness or the holiday blues.
A record number of calls to support services is forecast this year, with Lifeline Australia anticipating an increase in calls of 40 per cent. This reflects the kind of stressors, and the sense of loneliness during the holidays, that is so pervasive at this time of years.
Tips to keep you merry and bright if you’re doing Christmas solo
If you’re spending Christmas alone this year, there are things you can do to stave off those lonesome feelings and get through this festive time.
Make your own Christmas party
First of all, ask yourself this question: do I really need to spend Christmas alone? Chances are you know of others who are spending Christmas alone, so why not invite them to hang out with you for a bit, even if it’s just for a drink and some nibbles. They might be work colleagues, neighbours or someone in your community or friendship group. Get together and have your own special Christmas party. Check out some tips for organising your own “Friendmas” on the ReachOut website. Another way to have a festive party, if distance is an issue, is to organise a Zoom get together. I once participated in a Zoom Trivia Night that involved 20 guests and it was so much fun.
First things first ... sink into a relaxing bath
Start your day the way you plan to end it, with a sense of calm and relaxation. Take a hot bubble bath and listen to meditative music. Light a scented candle then sink into that warm, sudsy tub. Starting the day off feeling relaxed and refreshed will set you up for a day of filled with self-love and self-care.
The gift of self-love
Give yourself a present on Christmas Day. Choose something you really love or want, wrap it up and put it under the Christmas tree (or somewhere you can look at it with anticipation and excitement). If money is tight, buy yourself something small but meaningful or go to the $2 shop and buy a bunch of small, useful items you can open on Christmas morning. Giving to yourself in this way will really cheer you up and keep your spirits high before, during and after the big day.
Plan a fun day just for you
One of the upsides of spending time alone is that you can do exactly what you want without having to consider others’ likes and dislikes. How can that not be a good thing? Organise some fun activities just for you. Choose a couple of new movies, or a series to watch, or rewatch old favourites. There’s no end to the amount of times I can watch The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Let the feasting begin
Plan a delicious menu for lunch and dinner. You can make a single portion lunch or dinner but if you cook for more than one, there’s the added benefit of having leftovers to live on over the next couple of days. Cook yourself a sumptuous lunch and set the table with candles and Christmas decor. Just because you’re spending Christmas alone does not mean you have to go without the feasting. Mind you, don’t over do it and leave yourself feeling like a slug for the rest of the day. Better still, factor in some exercise in the afternoon. A brisk walk will get your blood pumping and make you feel great.
It’s hobby time
This is a great time of year to indulge yourself in a new hobby, such as an art or craft you love. Or maybe you’ve been wanting to paint the laundry for years … now you have time to do that small but worthwhile project. You can use up many hours doing a puzzle or craft activity or reading that new book you just gifted to yourself. The great thing about hobbies is you can induce a meditative state while creating something and see an end result for all your efforts at the end.
Give to others
Helping others in need is a great way to take the focus off yourself and there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer at this time of year. If you can’t find anything that suits you, you can always buy The Big Issue from a Big Issue sales rep on the street and give them a tip while you’re at it. Or you can deliver pet food to a person with a dog who lives on the street in your city or town. Small acts of kindness and giving help us feel good about ourselves and make us grateful for what we have.
This leads to the most important aspect we should focus on when we’re feeling a sense of holiday loneliness … and that is to practice gratitude. Mental health professionals with tell you that a person cannot experience depression when they feel gratitude. And there are many studies that prove this. So make a beautiful list of all the things you have in your life and all the aspects you're so grateful for. Put your pretty list on the fridge so you’re reminded everyday of all the wonderful things you have in your life and make this a time to celebrate them.
There are high expectations at Christmas but that doesn't mean you should get caught up in them because all they will do is make you feel more lonely during the holidays. Instead, this can be a time to focus on your own mental wellbeing. The key to getting through this time without feeling isolated is to take special care of yourself by tailoring the day to suit your needs and likes and making it as enjoyable as possible. This will take little bit of planning to ensure your mood stays buoyant. They say that Christmas is a time of giving. What better way to practice this sentiment than to give to yourself, especially if you're on your own. Yes, it's a time to feel connected, but feeling connected to yourself is a worthwhile pursuit and one we don't often get to practice. Now is your chance to enjoy spending time with yourself without experiencing feelings of loneliness. Merry Christmas to you!
Further support should you need it
If you've given it your best shot but you still can't shake those holiday blues, there is extra support you can draw on over the festive season. If this is the case, there is no shame in reaching out to to talk to another human being who will help you combat loneliness and isolation at this time. You might like to try one of the following services:
In the consumer mental health space, we are seeing a shift in the way clients are treated. Gone are the days where it's solely pharmacology or talking therapy.
The use of biofeedback, neurofeedback, photobiomodulation and virtual reality is growing because of the clinically measurable results and improvements in treatment benefits and outcomes where these technologies are used.
How technological breakthroughs are changing the future of mental health treatment.
This blog post will discuss some of these new treatments and how they can help you improve your mental wellbeing.
What can I expect from neurofeedback treatment?
Neurofeedback (NFB) and biofeedback (BFB) are two modern techniques for non-invasively influencing human physiological activity in combination with practical cognitive, emotional, and behavioural functions.
The first appointment of neurofeedback
The first neurofeedback therapy treatment (also known as mapping) takes 20 weeks. Every session is conducted using a computer EEG machine placed on the scalp. The EEG machine analyses the brain signal for information on a variety of wave spectrums. This software provides feedback to your brain and nervous systems via a video game.
Improve mental health with technology.
These programs show your brain activity, which aids in regulating the brainwave frequencies and helps to improve your symptoms. Brain frequencies influence states of arousal. If someone has a lot of 8-11 Hz (alpha waves) in the right hemisphere, they are most likely to feel calm. They are more likely to feel alert if they generate 15-18 Hz (beta) amplitudes in the left hemisphere.
Brain-focused treatment that sets us apart
Neurofeedback is being used in a wide range of settings and may treat various conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Clinical applications for neurofeedback are effective treatments for conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, headaches/migraines, insomnia, stress, and tinnitus. Neurofeedback has proven to be an effective treatment for pain management.
How does neurofeedback therapy work?
Neurofeedback is a type of brain training that determines whether neurophysiological processes may help us live better lives. This approach has been accomplished using computer-based learning sessions that teach our central nervous systems to avoid neurodegeneration, which is the process of aging.
Neurofeedback assesses how well you manage your brain in order to enhance physical and psychological health. Neurofeedback provides the immediate client information on their brain's electrical activity from various sites in the brain.
After receiving this data, the mind is forced to modify the brain waves it generates. The client is quick to improve the brain waves.
These modifications result in an improved brain wave condition. Following this shift in brain waves, there was a behavioural change and enhanced emotional self-control.
Tech therapy for psychological health issues
Anxiety is generally associated with racing thoughts, feeling "on edge," and sleep disturbances.
This may be caused by an overabundance of fast-moving beta waves coupled with a deficit of alpha waves, typically associated with calm and concentration. Neurofeedback can aid in producing more beneficial brain wave activity and the reduction of fast-moving beta waves.
Neurofeedback may help with many issues because it corrects abnormalities in brainwave activity and returns it to optimal functioning.
What is biofeedback?
Biofeedback aims to teach people how to detect physical indications and symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart or hot skin, using visual or auditory feedback.
People who learn how to use biofeedback to manage both the physical and psychological effects of their condition may be able to relax their minds and bodies, as well as better cope with their symptoms.
The objective of biofeedback is to create subtle changes in the body that produce the desired result. by reducing:
This data is presented and supported by changes in thinking, emotions, and actions, which aid in the desired physiological adjustments.
These modifications may endure without the use of an instrument over time.
Every psychological treatment is based on the idea that mental illness is caused by something in the brain.
This data is presented and supported by changes in thinking, emotions, and actions, which aid in the desired physiological adjustments.
These modifications may endure without the use of an instrument over time. For example, EEG biofeedback has been shown to decrease symptoms in patients with PTSD or OCD who are not responsive to medication or talk therapy alone.
The benefits of this treatment are measurable and long-lasting - it's a scientifically proven way to treat mental illness.
Photobiomodulation for mental wellbeing
Photobiomodulation uses light to change mental states. It effectively treats conditions such as depression, anxiety, and addiction.
How photobiomodulation works is still being studied, but it is thought that light stimulates cells in the brain and enhances cellular function. This therapy will be discussed along with some of its therapeutic uses for conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Photobiomodulation and laser therapy for mental disorders
The photobiomodulation laser therapy technique works by directing infrared and near-infrared light at targeted regions of the body, which then stimulates, protects, repairs, and energises the body on a cellular level.
Systemic photobiomodulation laser therapy
A wrist laser is used in a systemic laser therapy treatment. The near-infrared light passes through your skin and targets circulation. It's a delicate process since all you have to do is sit back and relax for a few moments. Many individuals report feeling lighter and happier following a systemically administered treatment.
Transcranial photobiomodulation laser therapy
A transcranial laser therapy session is similar to a scalp massage, except that the laser is applied gently to your head. The infrared and near-infrared light penetrates the skin and skull of the head, targeting specific regions of brain tissue. After only 1-2 treatments, many individuals report an improvement in their psychological health.
Auricular acupuncture laser therapy
Auricular acupuncture is a type of acupuncture that focuses on the ear's acupuncture points. These spots are said to be linked to various body and brain sections as well as specific psychological conditions associated with trauma. The infrared and near-infrared lights enable the healing process for the impacted issues when targeted with a laser. Many individuals notice an improvement in their symptoms after 3-4 sessions.
Virtual reality (VR) mental health treatment
Virtual reality is a mental health treatment that uses immersive, computer-generated simulations to produce the desired psychological state. This treatment is often used to treat anxiety, addiction and PTSD.
Virtual reality therapy can be done in groups or individually, depending on the therapist's preference and the patient's needs. The use of virtual reality treatment is still being studied, and it has yet to be approved by the FDA as a mental health therapy.
However, many therapists currently use it with good results. Virtual reality therapy, and its therapeutic uses for mental health issues such as anxiety, addiction and PTSD, will be discussed further.
Virtual reality treatment for anxiety and PTSD
Virtual reality treatments allow the patient to interact safely while facing their fears or addictions (i.e., smoking cessation). VR treatment can help reprocess traumatic memories, practice new behaviours and skills in a safe environment, and manage emotions.
Virtual reality is showing great results in helping war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Therapists around the world are starting to see the benefits of including VR in the changing landscape of mental health treatment.
Virtual reality treatment is an innovative way to provide care for those experiencing psychological problems. VR treatments are being used more and more with good results.
The benefits of VR for PTSD treatment:
Innovation will be the leader in the mental health crisis
These innovative treatment technologies are being used to address mental health issues more holistically. Using these treatment technologies in conjunction with one another allows for mental disorders to be addressed at a deeper level and for people to recover from mental disorders much quicker.
Neurofeedback is a relatively new and innovative way to provide mental health care. It’s been used in the treatment of patients suffering from DHD, TBI, depression and anxiety and many other mental health issues. If you're looking for an effective alternative therapy that can help with your condition or if you know someone who may benefit from neurofeedback, then this blog post should be helpful. Subscribe to our blog to learn more about photobiomodulation treatments as well as virtual reality applications for mental health care.
Shannon Bowman is the Director of SJB Clinical Consulting Pty Ltd and Create Balance Psychotherapy & Counselling VIEW HERE.