How Can You Maintain Your Mental Health While Navigating The Holidays?

Candles lit up in the dark in Nashville, TN

Many of us associate the holiday season with happiness and joyful celebrations, but that isn’t true for everyone. An experience of anxiety or depression known as the holiday blues can surface for various reasons; unrealistic expectations, pressures, financial concerns, and heightened activity can all play a part here. Today we’ll talk about a few ways you can maintain your mental health during the holidays.

What Are Some Challenges I May Face That Will Affect My Mental Well-Being During The Holidays?

Reflect on what may be causing your distress. Here are some common causes for seasonal mental health challenges and a few suggestions to help you manage them:

Pressure To Spend Money

The commercialization of the holiday season can often cause us to lose sight of the reason for the season itself—reminders to spend are constantly creeping into our mailboxes, inboxes, and social media. 

  • If this causes you distress, remind yourself of your values. Why are you celebrating this season? Whatever your reason, gifts are probably not the top priority.  
  • If you are purchasing gifts, plan, prioritize, and use a budget. 
  • You can also show your love, adoration, and appreciation in other creative ways. 
  • There are plenty of chances to volunteer your time this season and throughout the year. 

Unwanted Drama

The pressure to see others we are uncomfortable with will intensify during this time of year. Let’s focus on self-empowerment.

First, try to be accepting of differences. You don’t need to change your opinions or shrink into someone else’s shadow, but the holidays may not be the time to begin a crusade either. 

  • Tune into your feelings and avoid ignoring them.
  • Holiday parties are full of temptations for harmful coping mechanisms. This may include overeating and binge drinking. Knowing and noticing your triggers can help you from acting impulsively.  
  • Seek positivity. You may find it easier to avoid conflict, gossip, and toxicity if you choose to gravitate towards positive people.
  • Lastly, contact a licensed therapist to help you work through negative experiences. 

Grief

The holiday season is often the most challenging time of year for those who have lost someone they love. 

  • If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, embrace your process. Acknowledging your feelings allows you to honor your loved one. Avoiding your emotions may cause you to become isolated and miss the opportunity to seek support. 
  • Also, a positive step to consider is to create new traditions to honor and remember your loved one. This could be listening to their favorite song, watching their favorite movie, browsing through photos, or sharing favorite memories.
  • Your counselor can be an amazing resource and ally in helping you manage the loss of a loved one. 

What Are Some Helpful Tips I Can Use To Maintain My Mental Health During The Holidays? 

Stay In Therapy. Although the holiday season is overwhelmingly busy, do not cancel your therapy sessions to make time for other activities. The holidays can bring up difficult emotions. Most importantly, keep your scheduled therapy sessions to ensure you have that time to explore anything that comes up.

Don’t Rely On Drugs And Alcohol. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends avoiding drugs and alcohol for comfort. While the prospect of escape can be appealing, substance use can worsen your issues. There is a 20% overlap between people with anxiety or mood disorders and substance use disorders. Consequently, substances can make symptoms much worse. When you feel you need a relaxation aid, turn to a mindfulness tactic or other healthy coping mechanism.

Here at John Nichols Psychotherapy, you decide where you want to go and I help you get there. Let’s navigate this holiday season together and make it the best yet!

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