Whether you celebrate Christmas, another holiday or just generally know the lead-up to the new year as the ‘silly season’, you’ll know it as the time where, for many of us, our calendars are jam-packed with end-of-year parties and social engagements.
However, not everyone associates the ‘silly season’ with fun and togetherness. For those of us who are far away from family and friends, or struggling with mental health, it’s a time when we can feel especially lonely or mentally exhausted.
For others, the tendency to associate the festive season with excessive drinking can lead to unexpected harms. December is the busiest month for Australian emergency services when it comes to incidents relating to alcohol intoxication, giving “silly” a far more serious connotation for our first responders.
Looking after your mental health this holiday season
Budget worries, being overburdened with social engagements, the pressure of living up to expectations and feelings of loneliness and isolation are common mental health triggers during the holiday period.
There is often enormous pressure to make Christmas ‘perfect’, but striving too hard for perfection can increase stress and financial burden.
If you’re unable to be with the people you want to be with, the holiday season can make you feel especially lonely and isolated.
If you’re in either situation, our advice is to plan ahead. Keep your expectations (what you can afford, what you have time for, who you’ll be able to socialise with) honest.
- Set and maintain boundaries when it comes to spending time and money on parties, food and gifts. Don't feel pressured to overspend or overcommit. Why not keep it simple and let Christmas be a time when you are genuinely kind to yourself and the people you love?
- If you’re worried about being alone this Christmas, get in touch with organisations that help you connect with people. Community groups (local councils, expat and international student groups, mental health support groups etc.), often offer the opportunity to meet others in a safe and friendly environment
Think twice about 'festive' binge drinking
The holiday period is associated with throwing parties for colleagues, friends and family - and these parties often involve large amounts of alcohol. For some, the tendency to binge drink has become so normalised that getting drunk and being inappropriate at a Christmas function is often laughed off as a comedic stereotype.
But do you really want to be that guest?
On top of feelings of shame and embarrassment one might feel after getting too drunk and doing or saying something regrettable, heavy drinking can lead to unexpected harms.
The reality is there is no safe time to binge drink (as in drinking for the sole purpose of getting drunk).
A one-off episode could lead to an accident causing injury or death. Intoxication can cause a host of other issues too, including criminal charges, friendship or career damaging behaviour, the loss of valuable items or reckless spending.
Then of course, there’s the sting in the tail of every binge drinking session - the inevitable hangover.
Your body processes the alcohol in your system at a fixed rate (about one standard drink per hour for most people). So even if you’ve had a full eight hours sleep after your last drink, you might still wake up far from sober, and not in a safe state to get behind the wheel.
Being alcohol aware over the silly season
- Enjoy a few drinks, but go into the party conscious of moderating your alcohol intake
- If you’re hosting the event, don’t let alcohol consumption dominate the party - provide easy access to food and non-alcoholic beverages and plan activities that don’t revolve around drinking alcohol
- Don’t drink without eating regularly as well, and for every alcoholic beverage, have a glass of water or other non-alcoholic drink
- Never drink and drive. With the proliferation of ride-sharing services available now, there’s no excuse to jump behind the wheel while drunk
- Consider that with everyone owning a smartphone these days, any untoward behaviour could easily be caught on camera. At the same time, it’s best to put the phones away as the celebrations go on, or at least stay off social media until the next day
- Not a drinker yourself? Plan alcohol-free activities for you and your friends, like having a picnic or going to the beach or heading to the movies
- Being “alcohol aware” extends to the people around you as well. Remember that alcohol lowers people’s inhibitions and heavy intoxication can incite risky behaviour. If you’re worried about someone who is overly drunk and may pose a danger to themselves or others, don’t put yourself in harm's way - call emergency services if things get serious
Sonder provides 24/7 safety and support to its members throughout the Christmas holiday period. For example, if you're coming back late from a party, you can use the Track My Journey feature in the Sonder app, so we can remotely monitor your journey in real-time to help make sure you get home safely.
To find out more, visit us at the app store.