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Five Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health This Holiday Season

We all feel stressed from time to time during the holiday season – there is pressure to attend social events, give gifts, travel and more that can take a toll on one’s mental health. In fact, a poll conducted by the American Psychological Association found that nearly a quarter of Americans report feeling extreme stress during this time of year and 45% of Americans would prefer to skip the holidays entirely to avoid the associated stress.

Another study, this one from from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), found almost two-thirds (64%) of people with mental illness report the holidays make their conditions worse. Stress or anxiety associated with holiday activities can contribute to worsening symptoms.

This year may feel especially challenging, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss of loved ones, financial stress from lost jobs, and feelings of anxiety because of the uncertainties associated with the pandemic – these are all impacting the way people feel.

If you feel anxious about finding a new “normal” this holiday season, that’s OK. It’s important that you adjust at your own pace and take care of your mental wellbeing along the way. Here are a few tips from Mental Health First Aid to help you take care of your mental health this holiday season.

  1. Focus on what you can control. The pandemic has changed a lot around us, and it’s OK if you feel anxious as a result. Control what you can to take care of your physical and mental health. If you are nervous about travel requirements, research them in advance so you feel more prepared. If you’re feeling stressed by the media, take a digital break for a few days.
  2. Keep healthy habits. It’s important to keep healthy habits in place no matter your holiday plans. This may include going on a daily walk, getting a good night’s rest or staying hydrated. Taking care of your physical health can help stabilize your mood, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and improve long-term mental wellbeing.
  3. Make time for yourself. Spending time with family or friends, especially if you have not seen them in the last few years, can be overwhelming. If you need a moment to yourself, try sneaking away to a quiet room or going for an early morning walk.
  4. Create new traditions. It may feel challenging to revert to holiday traditions from 2019, and that’s OK. Create new traditions that work for you and prioritize your mental wellbeing.
  5. Ask for help if you need it. If you are feeling especially sad, stressed, anxious or depressed, ask for help. Talk to someone you trust, a mental health professional or a primary care physician for guidance and support.

 Whether you feel excited, nervous, anxious or stressed (or all of these!) about the coming holiday season, you are not alone. By taking small actions each day, you can #BeTheDifference for yourself and make your mental wellbeing a priority.

For more tips around managing your mental health during the holidays, check out these blogs from Mental Health First Aid:

  1. Staying Grateful in Difficult Times – Mental Health First Aid
  2. Mental Health During the Holidays: Five Tips to Ease the Struggle – Mental Health First Aid
  3. How to Support Your Loved One With a Mental Illness During the Holidays – Mental Health First Aid
  4. Four Tips to Manage Social Anxiety this Holiday Season – Mental Health First Aid
  5. How to Cope with Physical Distancing During the Holidays – Mental Health First Aid

 

References

Clarity Clinic. (2021, June 17). Holiday stress. https://www.claritychi.com/holiday-stress/.

Mental Health First Aid USA. (2020). Mental Health First Aid USA for adults assisting adults. Washington, DC: National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

National Alliance on Mental Illness California. Maintaining mental health during the holiday season (and a pandemic). https://namica.org/blog/handling-stress-during-the-holiday-season/ .


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