Keep moving to help beat the Christmas blues

15 December 2020


This year the COVID-19 pandemic and associated response measures has put a strain on our physical and mental health. With heightened anxiety around the Christmas period on top of this, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is reminding all Australians to take the time these holidays to focus on you and your health, and exercise can be a simple tool to do this.

Regular exercise, even from as little as one hour per week, has proven to have a profoundly positive impact on depression and anxiety, which is why it is so important to stay active during the festive season, particularly this year.

“With the pandemic taking a significant toll on our mental health and well-being, this year has been tough. Although Christmas brings with it an opportunity to relax and take a breather, a lot of us – especially our front-line, essential workers – are still recovering both physically and mentally,” says Anita Hobson-Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.

A study conducted by the University of New South Wales and the Black Dog Institute found that 78% of participants reported that their mental health problems had worsened during the outbreak and nearly half were worried about loneliness, financial troubles and uncertainty.

While the festive season can bring with it its own set of mental health concerns regarding anxiety, loneliness and financial concerns, keeping active – in whatever way works best for you – can be an easy way to help improve our mental health and overall emotional well-being by releasing endorphins which make you feel happier, as well as improving your mood and energy, and relieving stress.

“It’s important to remember that any amount of exercise is going to be beneficial for your health and setting easy to achieve goals can be a great way to help stay positive through the busy period of Christmas,” adds Anita.

Here are some tips to help keep active during the Christmas period:
  1. The festive season is a time for family and friends. Try changing your normal exercise routine to fun activities the whole family can enjoy. Encourage a game of street or beach cricket with the kids, a backyard game of tag, or a swim at the beach. Social exercise can be a fun alternative to your regular “work out” and it gives everyone a chance to participate.

  2. Christmas can be a very stressful time so why not take time out for yourself and participate in some mindfulness activities through yoga, tai chi or Pilates. Exercise and keeping active is a great way to combat the festive season stress.

  3. It is natural to lose enthusiasm for exercise over the holiday period but try not to let this discourage you. Modifying your routine slightly will keep you active and you will be more likely to become more motivated leading into the New Year.

  4. Christmas shopping is exhausting, but there are plenty of ways to make your time at the shopping centres even more active. Park a few blocks away, skip the elevator and take the stairs, or say no to a trolley. All that walking around can really work up a sweat, but if you’re trying to avoid the shops, why not go check out some Christmas lights in your area and include more movement that way!

Sometimes we need an extra hand when it comes to exercise, whether it be because you have a health condition or you’re not sure where to really start. Getting in touch with a suitably qualified exercise expert can help make things easier.

Find an accredited exercise professional in your area by using the ESSA Search Function: www.essa.org.au/find-aep.



All media enquiries can be directed to media@essa.org.au.