Tips for Managing your Mental Wellness During the Holidays
It is the time of the year when we are wishing people we come into contact with a ‘HAPPY’ Holiday!
Unfortunately, not everyone experiences the holidays as a time of merriment and celebration. For many people, the holiday season is one of sadness. This article will provide some tips for you and/or someone you know who may be experiencing the HOLIDAY BLUES. Before going any further, allow me to explain what this is. The holiday blues are a temporary feeling of anxiety or depression during the holiday season. It is sometimes associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - a diagnosable depression linked to fewer hours of sunlight during the winter that last throughout the fall and winter. However, please be aware that these are two separate things. The SAD is a diagnosable disorder. Hence, someone can have the holiday blues, but do not necessarily have SAD.
WHAT MAY TRIGGER THE HOLIDAY BLUES?
The reason varies and is not limited to:
- stress caused by not feeling able to meet over-commercialized expectations of a ‘good’ holidays
- missing loved ones who have died or cannot be with us due to concerns related to the spread or COVID-19;
- negative feelings from memories of former Holidays
- Feeling obligated to be around people like Uncle Jimmy, who drinks too much and says inappropriate and hurtful things. In other words, forcing yourself to be around people who frankly, you don’t feel connected to and would prefer to avoid.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE HOLIDAY BLUES?
As the holidays approach, persons with the holiday blues may feel the following symptoms:
- Tiredness, lack of energy or motivation
- Loneliness or isolation
- A sense of loss
TIPS FOR MANAGING THE HOLIDAY BLUES
Reach Out – Speaking with someone you trust and sharing how you are feeling can make you feel less alone and help relieve the stress of dealing with the challenges of the holidays by yourself. The following are some questions you may ask yourself before reaching out.
- Who do I want to talk to?
- What kind of help do I want from them?
- How do I want to communicate?
If you don’t have anyone that you feel comfortable sharing how you feel with, all is not loss. There are free resources that are available locally and nationally. For instance, in New Jersey, there is a FREE counseling program called New Jersey Mental Health Cares that is funded by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services that has trained mental health professionals who are willing and able to speak with you. For more information, call toll free (866) 202 – HELP (4357) or visit their website at https://www.njmentalhealthcares.org/. All calls are confidential! In addition, there is a TEXT line. Yes, you heard correctly! You can text ‘NJHOPE’ to 51684 and receive support from trained mental health professionals via text. The world has evolved.
National organizations include:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - https://www.nami.org/
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- Set aside time for yourself - Engage in some self-care activities such as getting enough sleep, maintaining a good diet and staying active. In addition, engaging in activities that relax you – reading a book, taking a warm bath, catching up on your favorite TV series, you get the picture, can also help!
- Don’t ISOLATE yourself – It may sound like I am contradicting myself here, but I am not. It is a matter of finding a balance. A distinctive symptom of depression is isolation. Feeling so sad that you don’t want to be around anyone. Doing this can make us feel even worse. So, it is important to be around people you care about, even if you do so in small doses.
- Remind yourself of the meaning of the holidays – Social media can be deceiving. People exaggerate their lives by painting a rosy picture than their reality. Gaining clarity about what the holidays mean to you can refocus your perspective. This can even help you to keep within your budget during the season as you are not living up to others expectation for the holidays!
- Celebrate the life of others who have passed – One of the reasons why the holidays are challenging for many is because their loved ones are no longer with them. One way of approaching this is to celebrate the person’s life. For instance, you can have other family member record or write what they person meant to them and compile the information gathered. Some of the sentiments will put a smile on your face. This activity can help with providing closure.
- Start a new tradition – Sometimes trying to keep traditions that no longer serve a purpose is what causes us stress during the holidays. Do something new! Start new traditions, you may be pleasantly surprised about how it makes you feel.
- Don’t be afraid to say NO! - Set boundaries!
- Use a To-Do list – This will help you to stay organized and focused which will alleviate some of the stress the holiday season can sometimes bring.
- Don’t drink alcohol if you’re feeling down.
- Keep to a normal routine as best as possible.
Somethings to ponder from our Messages In A Tin Collection - PONDER THIS! as we enter into the holiday season!
Again, Happy Holidays. Make this holiday season one that reflects your values and bring you happiness.