Surviving the holiday season

A traditional Christmas dinner setting.
A traditional Christmas dinner setting. Photo by Austin McGee/ Wikipedia Creative Commons

As we head into another holiday season, while many of us look forward to this time of year it can also be a difficult time coloured by stress and anxiety.

Starting in late December, through the turn of year into January, some of us use this time of year to take annual leave from work, as we plan celebrations and get-togethers throughout the holiday period, relaxing with food, friends and family.

It can also be an isolating even triggering time for many people living with HIV.

Some of these reasons might be unsupportive friends or family, limited or fixed budgets, or reminders of happier memories with loved ones.

The pressure to be part of the gift-giving that occurs throughout Christmas and New Years often adds to the tension of this time.

While socialising and partying is part of the celebrations, it can also pose a crippling burden for some.

Increasingly in our culturally diverse society, conventional religious displays only add to the sense of isolation for those of us from other faith traditions or who want no connection to the mainstream social customs during this time.

This time of year can also be a time when we remember and miss people who are no longer in our lives or have passed away.

As part of your plans for this time of year, prepare to honour their memory in a simple way to ease the emotion that their loss brings.

If you already know that Christmas Day itself will be difficult, make a plan for this day ahead of time.

Options could include make your own schedule early, think ahead of responses to invitations you’d rather not accept, and work out your own plans for the days you know might be more difficult than others.

You might know someone else who also finds this time of year challenging.

Think of the things that make you feel good and schedule a day with yourself or a close friend.

Sharing a coffee, a meal or a walk together, can fill in an hour or two during this day.

Understanding in advance what might spark feelings of depression, regret or sadness, can prepare you to think of ways to increase your feelings of joy, happiness or pleasure at this time of year.

However you celebrate your own way, take a digital detox, say ‘no’, turn off the phone, or light a candle, this holiday season spend time valuing yourself and your own needs.

Creating a Christmas Day or New Year’s Day to-do list ahead of time ensures you’re all set to have a range of options ready to action whatever these days bring.

-Positive Life is the representative body for people living with HIV in NSW

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