How to Look After Your Mental Health During a Difficult Holiday Season
There appears to be a noticeable shift that occurs as soon as the last trick-or-treaters return home. Christmas is such a powerful cultural force that its impending arrival is difficult to ignore long before Thanksgiving. The winter holiday season swiftly engulfs us all, bringing with it excitement and emotionally charged traditions, but also pressures, stress, and potential mental health concerns.
For people who are struggling with their mental health, the holidays can bring with them an overload of expectations and stressful situations. This is a wonderful time of year, but it’s normal if you’re not feeling quite as cheerful this year. In a year when many people are struggling with their mental health, whether due to the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, or another COVID-related issue, the holidays may not feel the same.
Why this year’s holidays may be different
It’s no surprise that a worldwide epidemic can have long-term implications on our lives. We’ve all gone through some substantial changes in the last several years.
If your family’s finances have suffered, you may be unable to support your usual Christmas celebrations. If a vital custom is not going to be observed, the Christmas season may feel void and dismal.
Of course, the holidays will not feel the same if your mental health is impaired. Finding holiday happiness with depression or any mental health problem may undoubtedly make it more challenging.
What These Changes Could Mean for Your Mental Health This Holiday Season
Living with the coronavirus epidemic for the past two years has had its toll on mental health. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America 2020 study, 78% of respondents feel the coronavirus pandemic is a major source of stress in their lives. As the study confirms, COVID-19 had a considerable influence on our lives, contributing to the already-existing mental health problem.
Even before the events of 2020, stress and mental health were major concerns that needed to be addressed. And both of these are made more difficult over the Christmas season, with almost 60% of respondents in a Healthline study reporting some holiday stress. If this year has been stressful for you, the holiday season may be even more challenging for your mental health.
Holidays may be especially difficult for people who suffer from mental illness.
Of course, practically everyone understands the difficulties that the holidays may present, but stress isn’t the only obstacle that this time of year presents. The holidays can be especially difficult for people suffering from mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and adjustment disorder.
Winter vacations occur during a colder and darker time of year, which can exacerbate symptoms for people suffering with SAD. The holidays often require us to repeat beloved customs with individuals we love, which can be difficult for those dealing with a death or other major upheaval. Traditions without your loved one might be painful when you are mourning. Having to celebrate in new ways and reflect on the past can be hard while adjusting to new circumstances.
Whatever your situation is, it can be difficult to deal with serious health issues while everyone else is having a good time.
Why You Might Struggle During the Holiday Season
Just because everyone else is happily singing along to the tunes and revelling in the Christmas spirit doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you if you can’t get into the same joyful atmosphere. It’s fair to feel less than happy about the holidays, whether it’s because everything is so different from the holidays you’re used to or because things are truly more of the same, including an unaltered terrible mental health state.
Instead of stressing over how to properly celebrate the holidays, the most important thing to remember is to take care of yourself and your mental health during the season.
How to Protect Your Mental Health During the Holidays
You don’t have to ignore everything else simply because the holidays have arrived. While all of the festivities might be enjoyable, they can also be overwhelming.
When putting your mental health first, you may need to step back from the holiday celebrations to ensure you’re taking care of yourself. This includes taking steps to improve mental health throughout the holidays, even if it is difficult.
Expect everything to be the same.
Every year is different, whether your life has undergone significant changes or not. We may move jobs or houses, enlarge our families, lose touch with loved ones, and generally grow and change from one year to the next. Every day of our lives, nothing, not even the holidays, ever remains the same, and we can’t expect them to.
Change can be difficult to accept. It can be stressful to watch so much of your life change, and if you’re already coping with this, the holidays may be difficult. It may be especially crucial for you to refocus your expectations for a different Christmas season.
Set Limits for Better Holiday Traditions
Of course, change may be a good thing to do for oneself. You can choose to adjust your attitude toward the holidays, reconsider your regular holiday customs, and embark on a self-care journey with seasonal limits.
Perfection can go.
Sometimes our mental health just demands that we abandon the concept of “picture-perfect.” Even in the greatest of circumstances, no Christmas is truly “perfect,” despite what others’ social media may tell us. You cannot control everything, and convincing yourself that you can is detrimental to your mental health.
If you want anything genuinely positive to come out of this season, set aside any unreasonable expectations. When you aren’t striving for perfection, you may discover that you appreciate this time much more.
Find Happiness Wherever You Can.
Even during a stressful holiday season, there may be reasons to smile. Keep looking, because they may appear when you least expect them to. Regardless of how low you are.
A modest, almost unnoticed Christmas custom might be precisely what you need to rekindle the joy you’ve been missing. So, while it may be difficult, it may also be worthwhile to make the effort to continue certain traditions or just participate in an an an activity you like. After all, the true magic of the holiday season is found in the memories we build.
Put your mental wellbeing first, no matter what.
Whether or not seasonal joy reaches you, the most essential thing is to take care of your mental wellness. Find a social support group and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. For one thing, instead of staying up late watching movies and decorating, prioritise your sleep. Instead of succumbing to Christmas stress, prioritise self-care with a consistent regimen.
If your mental health issue is simply too difficult to handle on your own, it may be appropriate to seek professional assistance. You may get help from a mental health expert over the holidays and beyond. Whatever mental health challenges you are dealing with, remember that support is accessible over the Christmas season.