It’s the most wonderful time of the year… until it isn’t. 

Not everyone enjoys this time of year. It can be difficult with heightened financial pressures, and for some, it can be lonely. Especially given the hype that can accompany the holidays.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, more than half of New Zealanders – 51% to be exact – feel added financial and social stresses in December and January.

If you find this time of year hard then there are ways you can help ease the pressure. Regardless of the calendar, it’s important to remember your mental health is always the number one priority, not presents under the tree.

Here are some tips we picked up from the Samaritans.
• Samaritans helpline 0800 726 666 is available 24 hours a day – including Christmas Day if you have something on your mind.
• Keep your expectations of Christmas and new year reasonable… you may not even like Christmas – and that it’s OK, as it’s just one day in the year. To many, it has no significance at all.
• Talk about how you are feeling to your friends, family, someone you trust or your GP.
• Remember you don’t have to spend lots of money to show people they are important to you. There are plenty of ways you can show you care that don’t involve spending money at all.
• Take regular exercise over the festive period – a brisk walk in the fresh air is good for your mental health – try to exercise for 30 minutes every day.
• Drink sensibly or try and avoid alcohol completely over the festive season. Alcohol is a depressant and can amplify bad feelings.

We also picked up some great pointers from the Mental Health Foundation:
• Spend more time in nature. Over summer the pōhutukawa blossoms, the sun shines more, and the days are longer, which can help make you feel happier.
• Buying food ‘on special’ ahead of the season when prices are lower, can help you save money and lessen the anxiety around expense.
• Find time to recharge. Unwind. Unplug and practice self-care. That’s time off well spent.

Look after yourself and others this summer.

AdviceFirst is a Financial Advice Provider (FSP23242).