While holidays can be a time of love, celebration, and joy, they can also be challenging for some. Seasonal stresses, bereavement, and mourning can make this period especially tough. For those grappling with mental health concerns, maintaining emotional stability during the holidays becomes vital. This is underscored by a 2014 study from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which revealed that 64% of respondents experienced a rise in their symptoms during the holiday season. Hence, it’s worth discussing some tips for maintaining emotional stability during the holidays.
The winter holidays aren’t everyone’s favorite time of year.
All the challenges of dealing with depression over the holidays are magnified. The pressure to always be upbeat and friendly is immense.
So, what can you do if you get into a jam this winter? How do you keep your sanity during the “hap-happiest season of all?” Here are eight ways to keep your mind and body healthy and free of Christmas stress.
Whatever your plans for the season, whether you’re staying home or going out, the first step is to develop a schedule. Determine your goals, your needs, and the difference between the two. You can better handle stressful situations if you are aware of what sets off your anxiety. And know that you have constraints. You don’t have to remember everyone’s names or attend every function. It’s acceptable to decline invitations that don’t work with your schedule or your mood.
Put Yourself First
It’s crucial to prioritize your own needs and care for them on a regular basis. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recommends prioritizing self-care and being kind to oneself. One way to achieve this goal is to plan free time and time for enjoyable pursuits. It could be doing something you enjoy, like reading a book, watching a movie, having a massage, or listening to music. But it might also mean making time for oneself and developing some novel rituals.
Do you have Christmas hosting plans? Could your dinner guests number four or fourteen? Remember that you are not alone, no matter what you have in mind for the upcoming season. Don’t be reluctant to ask for help from those you care about. Don’t be afraid to cheat, and give yourself a break. Many people feel extra strain and stress around the holidays, which can exacerbate their health problems.
Stick to a Schedule
Maintaining a sense of normalcy is essential, especially for people dealing with mental illness. Therefore, routines should be prioritized all year long. Eat healthily, get plenty of sleep, keep your medical and therapist appointments, and work in some physical activity like running, walking, bicycling, yoga, etc. Taking care of one’s physical health can help maintain a more even mood, lessen feelings of stress and worry, and boost one’s overall mental health.
Don’t Drink or Do Drugs
Food and alcohol tend to go hand in hand throughout the holiday season. These two things go hand in hand. However, those with mental health issues should stay away from booze and drugs because of the chemical changes they cause to the brain.
Setting limits is another way to look after your mental health during the holidays. People feel more generous during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean they should let down their guard when it comes to setting personal limits. It’s acceptable to say “no” if the thought of throwing a party or purchasing an expensive gift causes undue stress. It’s also acceptable to spend less time with relatives with whom you have a tense relationship.
Comply With Your Doctor’s Orders
You must follow your doctor’s orders if you’re taking medication for a mental health condition. No one should ever discontinue taking a prescribed drug without consulting their doctor, regardless of how much better they may feel. Some medications have potentially severe withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them too soon. If you already suffer from a condition like depression or anxiety, for example, this could trigger a relapse.
Get Some Help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, whether from seasonal stress, sadness, anxiety, or a mood episode, it’s crucial to talk to someone. The support of friends and family is invaluable. Professionals in the field of mental health play a crucial role in assisting their patients in coping with their illnesses. (If therapy is already part of your routine, keep it up.) There is an abundance of no-cost options for mental health care. One such text-based mental health service is Crisis Text Line, which provides 247 access to qualified counselors. It’s meant for people who are having a hard time dealing with a crisis or emotional turmoil.
Confused about where to start? The CDC has compiled a comprehensive directory of crisis support services such as hotlines, warmlines, and email forums.
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