Understanding and coping with the Christmas blues

15 December 2021

With Christmas and New Year holidays, the festive season often brings mixed emotions and can be a time where we struggle. It can be hard to see others celebrating and focused on their family if we are alone. It may be a time when grief is intense due to the absence of loved ones who have died or if we cannot be with family and friends who live far away. Tensions within families can be exacerbated and when families are fractured, we may have to make difficult decisions about who we spend our time with. For anyone working in healthcare and other critical services, we may have to work through while everyone else is relaxing and taking holidays. For those who do not celebrate Christmas, we may feel excluded from celebrations. If you are working, especially in the emergency department, you may see tragedy due to celebrations gone wrong - for example, motor vehicle accidents, violence, accidents with new toys, drunkenness and drug-affected individuals and the isolated and lonely members of our community.

Whatever your situation, it can be helpful to put some plans into place to look after yourself. Even if you are looking forward to Christmas, it is important to set aside some time to think about how you will focus on your own needs in addition to meeting the expectations of others. Some suggestions to make the most of this time of the year even when it is challenging include:

Some activities to avoid at this time of the year include:

As 2021 draws to a close, it is good to spend some time reflecting on how you can look after your needs in 2022. Be wary of setting yourself goals you cannot achieve but think about small changes you can make to create space for self-care.

The AMA Victoria Peer Support Service remains available throughout the holiday period -every day of the year from 8am to 10pm on 1300 853 338.

Kay Dunkley
AMA Victoria Coordinator of Doctor Wellbeing


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