Who’s noticed the Christmas decorations popping up already? Some places jump in early and start putting them up in November, whilst others like to really get a head start and have Christmas items available in October! Whilst this doesn’t bother me one way or another, it does serve as a sign that the next couple of weeks are likely going to get tougher for many people.
Much like the archways and carpets of purple jacaranda trees in bloom were a reminder that it was really time to knuckle down and study because exams were only weeks away (I know, I know… I was one of those students!), the emergence of Christmas decoration is a signal that those who are already struggling are about to be struggling even more.
Those who are in a financial bind find this time of year particularly difficult with lower working hours and higher expenses, especially if they rely on childcare during school holidays. Those in situations of family violence or abuse often find this time of year an even greater risk to their safety as tempers (and often alcohol) run over. Those who struggle with addiction (substance, food or habit) can find this time of year to be an even greater challenge than the rest of the year as the words ‘treat yourself’ become more visible with each day. Those who are affected by physical or mental conditions often find their symptoms are exacerbated towards the end of the year by stress, fewer available treatment appointments and a sense of exhaustion. Those who are already in fragile mental states through depression, grief or anxiety can find their balance is tipped from managing their condition to not coping well at all.
It is important to remember that if you are not one of these people, it is very likely that others close to you are. They may not wish to advertise their struggles, but their struggles will still be very real. Try to look beyond your immediate needs and be aware of who may be having a particularly hard time – offer them support, kindness and gentleness. It may well be the most important gift they receive this year.