'Tis the season to be jolly ... or is it?

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By Nicole Piestch

Christmas for many of us is a time for tradition. We remember what we did as children and as we grow up we continue some traditions and make new ones with our own families. 

However, for those working in the mining industry, Christmas can't always be spent with family.  Sometimes 'home' is just too far away (and it's too expensive to get there) while round-the-clock mining rosters can't always accommodate a Christmas break. So for many of us in the mining game, Christmas is not always a time to feel jolly.

Facing Christmas Day alone or seeing other people heading off to family bashes or parties can deepen our feelings of isolation. Although you might feel like you're the only one with a case of the Christmas blues, you are not alone.  

According to depression expert Marchel'le Renise Barber, millions of people suffer 'seasonal depression'. A common phenomenon, seasonal depression is a mood disorder that can begin days, weeks or even months before the holiday arrives, as people begin to anticipate the stress this season can bring.

So here are my tips for beating the Christmas blues:

  • Put yourself 'out there', particularly if you're new to town. Accept invitations for Christmas parties and get togethers, but remember, if you're feeling particulary low it's best to avoid drinking too much alcohol.
  • If you haven't yet got Skype and a webcam, buy it before Christmas - it's a great way to keep in touch.
  • Plan a holiday with your family for next year.         
  • Change your expectations. What are you expecting? A perfect gourmet holiday dinner ... harmonious family activities ... romantic evenings ... giving or receiving the perfect gift? And how long is your to-do list? By keeping Christmas simple and lowering your expectations, you'll lighten the load tremendously.
  • Take time to write some Christmas cards or a special note to someone you've lost contact with.
  • Talk to someone about your feelings.
  • Get out and do some exercise, even just a short walk.
  • Volunteer on Christmas day at a a shelter or kitchen.
  • If it's you and your partner without the extended family, make your own new traditions.

Remember, if you are experiencing emotional distress and feel you can't talk to your family or friends, beyondblue is there to help. Full contact details can be found below.

More expert advice from Nicole:

To ask Nicole a question (you'll remain anonymous) click here.

To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.