The holidays can be a season of warmth, joy, giving, and memories. However, for people living with mental health challenges, The holiday season has the potential to be a time of significant challenge, stress, and anxiety.
Oftentimes, those living with Mental health challenges experience worsening symptoms during the holiday season brought on by me additional stress.
In fact, nearly 64% of people living with a mental health concern report struggling more with symptoms during the holiday season.
When you couple these conditions with the added restrictions of living in a post-pandemic world, this holiday season has the potential to be one of the most stressful times of the year.
No matter your situation, you don’t have to simply surrender to the stress of the holidays and the pandemic.
There are coping strategies and tools we can all use to reclaim the joy of the season.
One of the most effective ways to understand the importance of mental health is to think of your mental health as a cup filled with water.
Pushing through the holidays without making time for self-care is like taking a pencil and poking a hole in the cup.
With one or two holes your cup leaks, but it is able to hold water. However, as you put more holes in the cup, water starts leaking everywhere.
Add a few more holes and your cup will simply be a collection of pieces sitting on the table. It certainly won’t be able to hold water, and it may not even seem like it was a cup once upon a time.
Do you really want to spend the holidays feeling like a broken and shattered shell of your former self?
The holidays are an emotionally charged time of year.
Financial stress, more time around family, and the hustle and bustle of the season are just a few of the potential stressors that can make the holiday season a mental health challenge.
Our brain is able to better process our emotions when we let them out.
Having a support system, someone you can talk to, or even light exercise is a great way to let your emotions out.
Meditation is a wonderful way to relieve stress, enjoy the moment, and stay focused. Not to mention, meditation can be done quickly and easily no matter where you are.
One of the easiest ways to meditate is to head over to YouTube and search for a meditation to get started.
For example, if you’re feeling stressed simply search for “meditation stress relief”. You’ll find dozens of videos that will walk you through meditations designed to reduce stress.
Sweet treats and adult beverages are plentiful during the holidays.
However, the trick to maintaining a healthy mindset during the holidays is moderation.
Willpower is like a muscle, it tends to wear down the more we use it. So, enjoying a Christmas cookie every now and again may help you say no to a plate full of sweet treats later on.
Making healthy choices during the holidays not only keeps us from packing on the pounds, it helps keep our mental health and check as well.
Making healthy food choices can help keep motivation and energy at optimal levels.
It can be tempting to stay up late or skip going to the gym to squeeze in a little extra holiday shopping. However, sleep and exercise are 2 of the best ways to combat the natural stress of the holiday season.
Getting the proper amount of sleep helps to reduce stress, increase energy as well as your overall physical and mental health.
During the holidays, it’s common to feel too tired to exercise. But, when it comes to stress and your mental health, regular exercise can be your best friend.
The endorphins released during exercise help to reduce stress, anxiety and improve physical and mental health.
Planning ahead can minimize the stress of the season. It is a good idea to use a calendar to schedule all of your holiday events.
If you have to go shopping or run errands schedule them at a time when the stores will be less crowded.
If sadness strikes during certain times of the season plan gatherings with friends on the same day to boost your mood.
The stress of the holidays is typically manageable and usually passes when the season is over. However, for some, the stress becomes more than they can handle on their own.
Here are some signs that the stress is too much, and you may need to get help from a professional:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Appetite changes with weight loss or gain
- Trouble getting out of bed due to mood
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy
- Unable to perform usual daily tasks
- Thoughts of self-harm or death
Let’s recap what you can do to promote good mental health this holiday season.
Take Time for Self-Care– Caring for yourself puts you in a position to make it through the holidays with better mental health. Proper self-care means you will also be able to better support your family and loved ones.
Meditation and Affirmations-Meditating and using affirmations are simple, quick, and effective ways to help reduce stress during any time of year.
Find the most effective self-care strategies for your needs.
Enjoy in Moderation– Strike a balance between going to every holiday party, eating too many cookies, or buying expensive gifts for everyone on your shopping list.
Sleep and Exercise-Don’t skip the gym or stay up too late. Getting plenty of sleep in regular exercise helps with many areas of our physical and mental health.
Plan Your Activities-Structuring your days to avoid crowds, stress, and spend time with friends is a great way to minimize holiday stress.