Avoiding Isolation Post-Holiday Season

The end of one year and the start of a new one can be an exciting time! It can also be an overwhelming period for many; it may be the first time you are celebrating with or without loved ones, it may be a time of travel or a time for rest, your house may have been full and then suddenly feels very empty.

Even to do a simple task such as grocery shopping can be daunting with the larger crowds around. All of these things can contribute to what is so-often called ‘post-holiday blues’. You have probably just read that and said to yourself, ‘yes I have experienced that before!’ That feeling of emptiness, isolation, and sadness. For many, it is something that happens for a day or two after the hive of activity and then they get into the swing of the year; however, for some it can become a greater concern leading to mental health issues such as depression or other health ailments, especially if they are more vulnerable, for example seniors or those living alone.
The older generations are less likely to seek professional advice when it comes to mental health. Data from a recent ABS study found that during 2020-2022 the percentage of people aged 65-85 years who saw a health professional for their mental health was only 8.1%, this is compared to 22.9% of people aged 16-34 years.

How can you or a loved one avoid post-holiday isolation?

  • Communication: Make a point of contacting someone who you feel comfortable talking to about things that matter to you. It doesn’t have to be a deep conversation; it can be light-hearted and as simple as talking about the latest tv show you’ve watched or book you’ve read. It can be in-person - at home or at your local café, over the phone, or even online via video chat. The most important thing is being connected in a meaningful way to you.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can increase enegy levels, regulate sleeping patterns and may help prevent depression. You could go for a short walk around your neighbourhood or at your closest park or beach. There are even free walking groups if you would prefer to walk with others for increased social connection.
  • Volunteer or join a community group: Sometimes the best way to combat your own loneliness is to help someone who may be in a similar situation to you. Do you have a neighbour who lives alone? Introduce yourself and have a chat. Or you can volunteer your time to help those in need. This is a good deed and gets you out and about.
    You could also join a community group with like-minded people such as an art or history group, or gardening club!
  • Treat yourself: There may have been so much happening in the holiday period that you weren’t able to do things just for you. This is the perfect time to go and treat yourself. Get a fresh haircut, have a mani/pedi, go play a round of golf or lawn bowls.
  • Look to the future: What is something small you’d like to achieve for the year? Would you like to read a new book or cook a recipe from scratch. How about starting to plan a short holiday?
  • Avoid vices: Things such as alcohol can increase your stress levels and lead to other health issues, so it is best to not drink excessively. Social media has become engrained in our society and while it is a fantastic tool to keep in touch with others, it can also have negative impacts, especially after holiday periods.
  • Seek professional help: If you are feeling the post-holiday blues or isolated from your community, talking with a professional may be helpful for you. If you find the idea of talking with a psychologist intimidating or unnerving a social worker may be a good first step for you. Social workers are accredited professionals who work in partnership with you to identify your needs, offer support, and/or connect you with appropriate services or resources to improve your overall well-being. They can visit you in your own environment which can help decrease any anxiety you may have around seeking support.

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