How are You Feeling?
“For many people the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year,” said NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth (in an interview before the pandemic).
The holidays can be a joy-filled season, but they can also be stressful and especially challenging for those impacted by mental illness.
For individuals and families coping with mental health challenges, the holiday season can be a lonely or stressful time, filled with anxiety and/or depression. If you’re living with a mental health condition, stress can also contribute to worsening symptoms.
The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests —and it's no wonder. The holidays often present a dizzying array of demands — cooking meals, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few. You may also feel stressed, sad or anxious because your holiday plans may look different than what you planned or anticipated.
When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.
Here are some suggestions for how you can reduce stress and maintain good mental health during the holiday season:
Take control of the holidays
Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.
Manage your time and don’t try to do too much.
Prioritising your time and activities can help you use your time well. Making a day-to-day schedule helps ensure you don’t feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks and deadlines. It’s okay to say no to plans that don’t fit into your schedule or make you feel good.
Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Don’t forget about self-care. We know the importance of a balanced diet, moderate exercise, and plenty of sleep, but because there are so many distractions and stressors this time of year, we lose sight of some of the basic necessities. We need to take care of ourselves and pay increased attention to ensuring we fulfill these areas of our lives as we get closer to the holidays.