Of course, this time of year can be joyous for many, but it is also a time of stress and anxiety for some. If you are struggling with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or other issues, this time of year may require extra attention from your mental health provider. Don’t be hesitant to seek support from the mental health professionals who are there to help.
Even those who do not suffer from mental health disorders can find this time of year a challenge. For some, especially in the last few years with the pandemic, there may have been a recent loss of a loved one who will not be sitting at the holiday table. For others, it could be financial woes and the added pressure of buying presents and preparing holiday meals. In general, many people struggle with family interaction and big family gatherings can be something to dread more than enjoy. All of these things can cause more stress this time of year. Some people are alone and have very little support system. To them, the holidays are a bleak reminder that they don’t have loved ones to celebrate with.
Ways to Combat the Holiday Stress Factors:
- Plan Time with Friends:
Many say you can’t pick your family, but you can choose your friends. Create some fun and new holiday traditions with friends who bring you the most peace and joy. If you need to, ask one or two of them to accompany you to a family gathering that could be difficult without an ally, or use them as an excuse to head out early if things get rough.
- Only Choose Family Gatherings that You Can Handle:
Many families have issues with boundaries. Some old wounds come up during the holiday season and things can escalate quickly into arguments or ugly debates. If you must make an appearance, plan an exit strategy and walk away before things get heated. Determine your boundaries and stick to them. Don’t put yourself in a position where the location or the amount of time you must spend can cause you to be stuck in a situation you can’t escape.
- Take Care of Yourself and Others
You and your immediate family and friends must come first. Your partner, spouse, children, close friends, and other family members must be supported at this time of year. Make sure you eat well, get lots of sleep, exercise, and do the things that bring you and yours joy and peace. Plan fun holiday activities with them, ones that do not add to the typical holiday stress. Create new happy memories and only visit the best of the past ones. You don’t have to buy into all the holiday hype. If you are not feeling it, don’t try to force the spirit.
If you know someone alone, an older person, or someone who may have no one to turn to at this time of year, perhaps reach out to them and offer to share a meal or give them a small gift to show that they are valued.
- Talk to Your Mental Health Professional
If you are feeling extra holiday stress, realize that it is a common issue that many other people are facing. You are NOT alone. If you don’t have a mental health provider, seek one out. They will help you process your feelings and holiday anxiety. No matter what, don’t try to go it alone or tough it out.
Addressing your mental health and the way you are feeling can be the “ticket” to reducing stress levels during the holidays so you can get as much joy from the season as possible.
At Advantage Mental Health Center of Pinellas County, Florida, we are here to help. Reach out to us and visit our website at advantagementalhealthcenter.com.
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