IT'S touted as a time of joy, but Christmas can be a rough ride for some.
Grief, loneliness or family conflict can all feel heightened during the "fantasy period" of the festive season, Bendigo experts say.
We spoke to a psychologist and manager of a counselling service about how to best manage some common Christmas struggles.
Anyone struggling with their mental health should call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For psychologist Ivan Honey it's always important to breathe when things get tough.
Mr Honey said often people went into Christmas expecting the worst, and dealing with it in uncomfortable ways, such as eating too much or turning to alcohol or drugs.
He said after a hard year, his advice was to be kind to yourself and enjoy the present moment.
"Take a deep breath and say, 'It's okay, no big deal, worse things happen'," he said.
"Even looking back, to be able to say, 'I'm going to get through Christmas so I can look back and say 2020 was a tough year but I managed it well'."
Bendigo Community Health Services counselling and mental health manager Janaya Wiggins said Christmas could be a trigger for isolation, loneliness and grief.
Ms Wiggins said some people would not be able to meet with their family this year in particular, because of COVID-19 and borer restrictions.
To anyone feeling isolated, lonely or grieving, Ms Wiggins said it was good to acknowledge that, rather than pushing it away.
Ms Wiggins said once someone had realised how they were feeling, self-care strategies could be helpful.
These could be going for a walk, getting some sunlight, getting into nature and using your breath to calm down.
Mr Honey said for those feeling low, or lonely during Christmas it could be good to think about who they could call, or visit.
He said anyone struggling with their mental health should call Lifeline.
Mr Honey said his biggest advice was to people was they couldn't control what other people said or did, but they could control how they managed themselves.
He said taking a deep breath, taking some time out by going for a walk, and watch out for whether we're exaggerating or imagining the worst could all be helpful in conflict situations.
"To know we are in control of how we choose to deal with things is a big one. Because we can focus so much on the triggers and feel ourselves the victim of the behaviour," he said.
"But we have a choice, but can take a deep breath and think about how we [want to] think of ourselves after Christmas."
Ms Wiggins suggested exercise such as walking, healthy eating and reducing alcohol consumption could all help.
In family conflict situations, Ms Wiggins said going for a walk or taking a break from the situation could also be helpful.
If you or someone you know needs support, you can call:
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Head to Help 1800 595 212
- Mental Health Regional Triage 1300 363 788.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.