Managing Mental Health During the Holidays

  • 4 mths ago

Looking ahead to holiday gatherings, events and activities may fill you with anticipation and excitement, along with a little angst. You may feel that build-up of anxiety as the holidays approach. According to a recent American Psychiatric Association poll, nearly one in three Americans expects to be more stressed this holiday season than last year.

Here are some coping strategies to help you improve your mental health during the holidays:

Preventing Burnout — It’s OK to Say No

For many, the holiday season brings joy, but it can also bring more stress and some conflicting obligations. It is important to prioritize and simplify: prioritize what brings joy and emotional recharge (people or activities) and simplify when you can. It’s okay to say no to situations that stress you out, whether it's attending a party with people who have mistreated you or missing a party in a week that's been too intense at work.

Take a break

Many families have that one member who can turn a pleasant conversation into a family feud. If you see things are starting to take a turn for the worse, try not to let it escalate. There is no shame in removing yourself from the situation. Get up and leave the room or step outside until everyone cools down.

Get Some Fresh Air and Sunlight

Getting fresh air and exposure to sunlight can help relax you and lift your mood. Many people struggle with some feelings of depression during the winter months with fewer hours of sunlight and more time spent indoors. Walking outside in the sun can be an effective centering and calming tool.

Grief and Loss

During the holiday season, many people may have a more difficult time missing a loved one they have lost or simply experience increased grief or loss. This can be especially true for people having their first holiday season without a loved one. Instead of trying to avoid thinking about your loved one, honor and celebrate them by getting together with other family members and friends and treasuring their life stories, especially stories that highlight important aspects of their life and personality.

Financial stress

Holiday spending can easily leave people in debt, contributing to stress that may last well into the new year. This year’s inflation is only adding to the financial burden. Try to avoid overspending and focus on celebrating together and showing affection by being present, engaging, and supporting each other.

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