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Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is often portrayed as a time of joy, merriment, and togetherness. Nonetheless, for many people, it can also be a time of increased stress, anxiety, and depression. The pressure to meet societal expectations, combined with personal triggers and the influence of social media, can contribute to what is commonly known as “holiday stress.” In this post, we will explore the causes of holiday stress and provide practical tips for taking care of your mental health during this time.

 

Understanding Holiday Stress

Holiday stress can stem from various factors, including pre-existing mental health issues, seasonal affective disorder, recent losses, and emotional and financial pressures from family and friends. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, over 38 percent of respondents reported increased levels of stress, depression, and anxiety during the holiday season. Another study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that people with mental health disorders experienced worsened symptoms during this time.

Identifying Holiday Mood Triggers

One of the first steps in managing holiday stress is to identify your unique triggers. Triggers can be people, places, or things that remind you of past traumas or upsetting events. Examples of holiday triggers may include stressful family relationships, traumatic memories, or the anniversary of the loss of a loved one. By recognizing these triggers, you can develop strategies to reduce their impact and prevent emotional reactivity.

Giving Yourself Permission to Feel

During the holiday season, it’s important to give yourself permission to feel a range of emotions, including those that are not traditionally associated with joy and happiness. It’s normal to experience envy, sadness, or resentment during this time, especially when comparing your own experiences to the seemingly perfect lives portrayed on social media. However, denying or suppressing these emotions can exacerbate feelings of stress and depression. Instead, practice self-compassion and allow yourself to acknowledge and process your emotions without judgment.

Limiting Social Media Use

Social media can be a significant contributor to holiday-related stress. Scrolling through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok can intensify feelings of loneliness, envy, and inadequacy. Comparing ourselves to others who appear to be leading perfect lives can erode our self-esteem and well-being. To protect your mental health, consider setting limits on your social media use or taking periodic breaks from these platforms. Focus on engaging in activities that promote self-care and genuine connections with loved ones.

holiday stress

Slowing Down and Practicing Self-Compassion

Slowing down your body and mind can significantly reduce holiday stress levels. Take time for yourself and engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being. Deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing or meditation, can help calm your nervous system and alleviate anxiety. Additionally, practice self-compassion by treating yourself with kindness and understanding. Use comforting and affectionate self-talk, similar to how you would speak to a close friend.

Seeking Support and Connection

If you tend to feel more isolated, depressed, or anxious during the holiday season, it’s essential to be proactive in seeking support and connection. Make plans with trusted friends and family or engage in virtual gatherings and activities. Reach out to a mental health professional who can provide guidance and understanding. Remember, you are not alone in your experiences, and there are resources available to help you navigate this challenging time.

Knowing When to Seek Professional Help

Despite your best efforts, managing holiday stress may sometimes require professional assistance. If your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s essential to give yourself permission to ask for help. We are trained to provide support and guidance tailored to your specific needs. Consider reaching out today to develop coping strategies and navigate the complexities of holiday-related stress.

Take Away

Taking care of your mental health during the holiday season is crucial for your overall well-being. By identifying your holiday triggers, giving yourself permission to feel, limiting social media use, practicing self-compassion, seeking support and connection, and knowing when to seek professional help, you can navigate holiday stress more effectively. Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources available to support you on your journey towards mental wellness. Take the time to prioritize your mental health this holiday season and create a more meaningful and fulfilling experience for yourself.