mental health during the holidays

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health During the Holidays

While the holidays are a time for family, friends, and fun, they can also be a time of stress and anxiety. There’s shopping to do, parties to attend, food to cook. And then there’s the pressure from society that you should have everything just right: your house should be decorated beautifully; your table should be laden with delicious homemade treats; you shouldn’t show any signs of stress or fatigue.

In this article, you will discover how to take care of your mental health during the holidays.

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health During the Holidays

Mental health during the holidays is negatively influenced by many factors, including stress, peer pressure, feeling obligated to attend social activities, overeating, using alcohol or drugs, and lack of sleep. Now, on top of everything else, you must worry about preventing the spread of COVID or contracting it. These are not the only holiday stressors, unfortunately.

You may also feel financial pressure, over-committing yourself to parties and events, or the opposite, not being able to see family and friends during the holidays. All can make you feel more depressed, anxious, and alone. You are not alone.

Here’s how to take care of your mental health during the holidays.

It’s Okay To Not Participate

The holiday season often means feeling obligated to attend or host activities for family and friends. You feel compelled to purchase nice gifts for others with the money you need to save. You feel obligated to be cheerful, thankful, and energetic even when you don’t. The truth is you don’t have to feel obligated anymore.

It’s okay to put yourself first during the holidays and throughout the year. Your mental health is much more important than anything or anyone making you feel obligated. If you are not healthy, you can’t successfully fulfill the obligations anyway.

Putting yourself first can mean limiting the number of activities in which you participate. Be honest when rejecting an invitation or request. Those who love you will support you. Set a budget for the holidays and don’t exceed it. It’s okay to replace holiday events with self-care activities.

It’s Okay to Take Care of Yourself

Self-care is essential for mental and physical health. Rather than wait for an illness to arrive, start taking care of your health today. Too often, people put their own needs behind those of others. You feel guilty if you do something nice for yourself. This is a mistake. Eventually, you don’t have enough to give to anyone because your body, mind, and soul will be lacking good health.

To truly be able to give to others, you must make self-care a priority. Self-care includes the little things that keep your body and mind healthy, like the examples below:

  • Attending therapy with a licensed mental health professional.
  • Attending support groups.
  • Working with a nutritionist to discover food allergies and the best foods for your body.
  • Getting organized and implementing time management at home and work.
  • Learn more about yourself through various activities, such as counseling, journaling, writing your autobiography, taking an online class, or researching your genealogy.

Self-care is participating in anything that makes you feel good and leads to positive health benefits. Rather than feel guilty when you take care of yourself, start feeling guilty when you don’t. Your body and mind deserve a massage, a walk in the park, and a night on the couch watching movies.

It’s Okay to Reach Out for Help

It’s important for you to avoid feeling like you must take on the holiday season alone. You are not alone. If you are working with a therapist or psychiatrist, they will help you create a positive support team. Your team will include people eager to help you through times when you feel stressed and overwhelmed or when your mental health symptoms seem to be getting worse.

Support teams can include pastors or fellow church members, counselors, teachers, coworkers, family, friends, and anyone else who makes you feel better and gives you honest feedback and advice.

It’s Okay to Celebrate Virtually

With COVID and its variants impacting travel or making some fearful of getting together in large groups, you may worry about feeling lonely during the holiday season. You can avoid feeling this way by getting creative about how you get together with friends, family, and even coworkers.

Attend events virtually. Many online programs allow you to be with others while not physically being with them. Connect digitally once, twice, or as many times as you want with the party. Participate in the fun from a distance.

It’s Okay to Save Money and Not Buy Gifts

Unfortunately, feeling pressure to buy nice gifts for friends, family, or coworkers is normal during the holidays. The holidays are about feeling thankful and showing gratitude. You can do this in many ways other than buying a gift. 

Find creative gift ideas that cost little or nothing. Examples include photos that make someone smile, a family recipe book or make a personal video that includes everyone in your family or circle of friends wishing them a happy holiday season.

Other gifts include helping someone with ordinary tasks, like babysitting, cooking, cleaning, organizing, home repairs, or running errands. You could make coupons for each.

Gifts that don’t cost money are more meaningful. You took time to think about them and personalize their gift based on your relationship.

It’s Okay to Have Mental Health Issues

Every person on the planet has mental health needs, some more than others. This is especially true during the holidays. According to research, 64% of people reported the holiday season brings about worsened mental health symptoms.

For many, mental health issues don’t leave when the holidays are over. In America, one in five people experienced a mental health issue in the previous year. That’s more than 51.5 million people.

It is okay to have a mental health issue. What is not okay is allowing the condition to go untreated. You deserve better, and because there are so many mental health centers in your community, you can easily access help.

The types of help available at your local mental health center include:

  • Medication to boost neurotransmitters in the brain like Serotonin and Norepinephrine.
  • Medication to aid withdrawal symptoms if you have a substance use disorder.
  • Medication to aid treatment-resistant depression.
  • Individual therapy.
  • Group therapy.

If you are struggling with mental health issues this holiday season, reach out today for help.