For many of us, Christmas is a joyous time, spent celebrating with family, taking holidays, or just enjoying the sun at home as we flock to backyard pools and barbecues.
But Christmas isn’t an easy time for everyone, and though you may feel the pressure to pretend everything is fine, and this time of year is just like any other, if you are struggling, it’s important you reach out and let someone know.
In this Mental Health Series article, we acknowledge that Christmas can be tough, even for the most resilient and hardy of agents. Feeling this way about Christmas is ok and perfectly reasonable — but know there is plenty of support available to make it easier!
Being a real estate agent can be tough at the best of times. Especially over the last 12-to-24 months as the market fluctuated, vacancies extended, listings and sales were elusive, and closing often seemed just out of reach.
As Christmas approaches, and many of you look forward to the break, keep in mind some of your colleagues won’t find the holiday season quite as rosy and positive as Hollywood may lead us to believe it is.
Though research differs from country-to-country when it comes to exactly how Christmas effects mental health, here in Australia, it is clear this festive time can not only increase feelings of pressure, anxiety and loneliness, it can also exacerbate family tension and stress, leading to conflict.
And don’t forget, this is a ‘season’, not just one day. While Lifeline reports receiving more than 2,500 calls on Christmas day, it notes call volumes immediately after Christmas are also higher than those received during the rest of the year. Similarly, surveys by Relationships Australia point out many Aussies experience family challenges over holidays and seek support.
If you are experiencing any of the following, please talk to a colleague or reach out to the services listed at the end of this article for guidance.
- Challenges with work/life balance. Relationships Australia reports many families experience ‘highly negative’ effects of work/life balance at Christmas — an issue many agents struggle with due to demanding workloads and after hours sales and property management calls and appointments. If you are having trouble fulfilling your obligations at home or just finding the time to connect, start by talking to your manager, letting them know what’s going on and working together to re-balance some of your workload over the next few months.
- Financial stress. Finance has a big role to play in both mental health and relationship challenges over the holidays. While reports show Christmas shopping alone boosts stress, decreased income from a tough market and less to spend can certainly increase pressure.Be upfront with your family if finances aren’t as strong this year as they may have been in the past, and remember, Christmas doesn’t have to be about money — it should be about quality time. Countless online blogs tell stories of families doing it tough who have put money issues aside and had the best Christmas of their lives by going off-grid camping or introducing, fun, low-cost, new traditions.
- Alcohol-related issues. At Christmas, many of us overindulge — we eat too much turkey, sample a few too many prawns and don’t mind a heaving bowl of half-and-half trifle and pav. Often, of course, alcohol comes into play. While having a drink can help unwind and relax, alcohol can also cause tension, arguments and even violence. If you need help with your own alcohol use or that of someone close to you, there are a range of centres that can provide everything from guidance to in-person support.
- Loneliness. Not surprisingly, isolation and loneliness affect many people, and at Christmas, being alone or just feeling alone, can be overwhelming. As a busy agent, you may be surrounded by people all year, but come holidays, if you don’t have family or haven’t had time to maintain friends, it’s easy to find yourself at a party for one!To avoid loneliness, ensure, through the year, you really focus on balancing your life and work, so you have time to invest in family or friends, stay connected and continue to build real relationships.If Christmas is around the corner and it looks like a lonely one for you, try volunteering — there are so many kitchens that require volunteers to help feed the homeless or struggling, and as well as doing something amazing for others, you have the opportunity to really feel part of something special.No volunteering opportunities in your area? Visit the local senior centre wearing a Santa hat and with some small gifts to share — you will be surprised how many elderly people are alone at Christmas; brighten their day and let them brighten yours!
- Overwhelm and exhaustion. After a big year knocking on doors, knocking up signs and knocking down sales, the hustle, bustle and expectation of Christmas can just leave you drained and exhausted, which can also leave you more vulnerable to emotional instability. Make time to relax, set expectations with family and friends that this year won’t be run-run-run for you. Let them know, while you are happy to have a party or two, you need some ‘you time’, some unwind time and maybe even the company of a great book!
Overall, Christmas is a time that asks a lot of us, and as agents, after a few years that have asked more of us than we thought we could give, finding the emotional and energy reserves to plough through it can seem impossible.
Set realistic expectations for your holiday period in advance (for yourself and others), plan ahead, don’t over commit, avoid conflict, watch alcohol consumption, make a budget that is achievable and won’t leave you broke, and don’t do it all alone unless you want to.
If you need support, try one of these organisations, available all year long:
Blackdog Institute for great resources
Lifeline — for crisis support
- Call 13 11 14
- Support for depression and anxiety
- Online chat
- Call: 1300 22 4636