The winter holidays are a time of joy, family, and giving. As the year reaches an end, we begin to reflect on what has past, and get excited for what’s to come. Despite the jolly music and delicious treats, the holidays can be hard for some people. They can take a serious strain on one’s mental health. The stress of planning events and being around people can intensify feelings of anxiety and depression. Luckily there are a few tips that psychiatrists recommend to minimize these negative feelings and focus on the real joy of this season.
It’s easy to feel like you have to do it all during the holidays. Planning parties, buying gifts, and seeing all your loved ones seem like fun activities, but they can start to feel like horrible obligations. Budgeting and scheduling will help you from overextending yourself. Get comfortable saying no to certain things if it’s in the best interest of your mental health. Maintaining healthy boundaries is an important part of improving mental health in general, and never more so than during the hectic holiday season.
Whether it’s your family or friends, this time of year is really about love. You don’t need to throw a big party in order to spend time with the people closest to you. Participate in smaller, more intimate activities instead, like baking cookies or going ice-skating. It’s not so much about what you’re doing or where you are, as much as it is about whom you’re with. Prioritizing relationships and quality time can help you improve your quality of mental health over the holidays.
There is a sense of obligation at this time of year to see people you may not want to just because they are family, or coworkers, or part of your extended network of friends. This often entails being drawn into tense situations, like family arguments. If there are certain situations going on between family members, keep things light and don’t engage in those heated topics. Also don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, excuse yourself from a stressful situation, or even not attend an event if you don’t want to. It’s far more important to spend this time with those that bring positivity into your life.
Everyone has their own holiday traditions, and many include indulgences that you may not otherwise engage in, such as heavy foods or excessive drinking. While these indulgences may seem fun, for some people they can lead to intense guilt and stress. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you should forget the healthy habits you’ve been working on all year. Keeping them up will make you feel more accomplished and happy.
As happy as these times are for some, to others this time of year brings on feelings of intense sadness. Whether it’s because a loved one is no longer around, or because of mental illness, don’t feel like you have to force yourself to be happy. Beating yourself up because you don’t feel the holiday joy isn’t going to help bring it. Everyone has bad days, and if yours happen to fall on a holiday, there’s nothing you can do about that. Accept it and enjoy what you can. It is okay to permit yourself the right to feel sad during the holidays.
Mental health is just as important during the holidays as it is any other time of year. Don’t get so caught up in the holiday cheer that you forget about yourself. If you would like to book an appointment with one of our psychiatrists to discuss any holiday anxiety, stress, or depression you may be feeling, please contact us.