The warmth of hugs, hot chocolate and nuzzling between blankets come to mind for many as the holiday season draws near. Family members and joyous spirits fill the air, stores become crowded spaces with bargain hungry shoppers and carols are being sung far and near.
However, especially those dealing with mental illness, high expectations, loneliness and stress, can bring on the “Holiday Blues”. While most people experience this short term, some holiday blues can last for an extended period, leading to chronic depression. Dealing with a loss, mental health or financial instability can consume a lot of energy, making it difficult to reciprocate the merry and cheer. Having to fabricate these emotions often leads to feeling powerless and overwhelmed when faced with adversities, but one thing that is important to remember is that you are never alone and there is always someone willing to lend a listening ear.
Caregivers in particular are at risk for heightened stress and anxiety during the holidays. Many caregivers express feelings of helplessness and are consumed by guilt at the thought of putting their mental health first. However, it is important to take the initiative to ensure the health of your own first in order to better your ability to support your children, loved ones or elderly in your life. Issues or feelings left unresolved pose risk of resurfacing in an intensified manner, something that can effect more than just one individual within the family unit. It is okay not to have all of the answers and it is certainly encouraged to seek assistance if needed.
According to a survey reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, during the holidays, participants reported, “66% loneliness, 63% increased pressure and 57% felt unrealistic expectations”. There are certain things you can do to minimize these feelings, check out some ways you can manage – mentally and psychically – during the holidays:
– Decision-Making is not only liberating in its concept, but also a key aspect to increasing productivity and feeling in control of your life. Making the choice to attend the office party or take some time off could be the difference between mental chaos and clarity.
– The Power of No. Although it is the season of giving, do not feel obligated to take on more than you can chew. Overwhelming yourself with favors and additional responsibilities is an easy way to promote additional stress. Think twice before saying yes and know it is okay to say no.
– Create New Memories. For some, the holidays may have been a joyous time, but the loss of a loved one or an experienced tragedy can taint those memories. Instead of setting yourself up for sadness, create new traditions and memories.
– Just Breathe. Are you scrambling to get gifts together? Perhaps you’re picking up additional shifts? Or maybe you are dreading the chaos of visiting family? Take the time out to breathe. Breathing exercises are designed to help us increase oxygen intake, attain clarity, and feel grounded and productive. Stepping back from the fast pace for 30 seconds to establish a sense of position and purpose within your present moment can help ease feelings of being overwhelmed or distracted. The Nourished Life blog offers many helpful tips for practicing effective breathing exercises, promoting overall mental and physical health.
– Exercise. A short walk can do wonders.
– Identify your favorite downtime activities and find time to do them. Pick up that book you have been putting off, play your favorite game or instrument, watch a movie and unwind.
Your local 2-1-1 is open 24/7, offering supportive and crisis counseling. If feelings of loneliness arise, please know you are not alone; dial 2-1-1 to speak with non-judgmental hotline counselor. WE ARE HERE.
Call 2-1-1 or (850) 617-6333 for our free, confidential hotline services.