By Reagan Williams
We have reached that time of year where the holiday season has arrived. For most, the holidays represent traditions, bonding with family, and creating memories with loved ones. The holidays are the favorite part of the year for numerous people. However, the holidays can be a challenging and uneasy time for people with a myriad of emotions. Some people struggle to cope with stress and depression during the holiday season and have difficulty feeling joyful and celebratory. If you experience difficulty with this time of year, there are different things you can do for your holiday self-care.
First, the very reasons why people enjoy the holidays are the same reasons why others find it difficult. During the holidays, people might feel the loss of loved ones more significantly and experience issues around grief. Social isolation is a problem for people in small social circles or don’t have the opportunities to socialize. When people witness others they know enjoying the holidays with friends and family, they may question why that isn’t them. If the holidays are a triggering time for you, you are not alone. The holiday season can add extra pressure for people and normal circumstances can seem less pleasant.
According to NAMI, 64 percent of people that are already dealing with a mental illness can feel it intensified during the holidays. This stems from people placing pressure on themselves, spending more money than they should and forcing themselves to act happy regardless of how they feel. There are multiple coping mechanisms you can engage in for your self-care. Most importantly, a person should acknowledge how they truly feel. It’s normal to feel grief and sadness during this time of the year. It is okay to not force yourself to be happy. Next, you should be intentional with your energy- read a good book, redecorate a space or throw a dance party with friends especially if you are feeling burnt out. Whenever the feelings of loneliness and isolation creep in, it is a great time to reach out to people. A wonderful way to do it is through volunteerism- from reading to kids, baking cookies for first responders or just engaging in random acts of kindness.
Throughout the holiday season, one key factor is to be realistic about expectations. These expectations include goals that you have or have not met so far for the year. It’s easy to fall into the trap of placing unnecessary stress on not meeting certain accomplishments to please other family members or friends. This pressure can extend from spending so much money on gifts or succumbing to retail therapy for yourself. It’s okay to let people know how you are feeling and remind them of the boundaries you’ve established for yourself.
It’s important for people to be mindful and present for themselves during the holiday season. Recently, Billy Porter, (actor, singer and author) shared what he does to get through the holidays on, The Unwind. The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series where experts, influencers and celebrities give real approaches to wellness and mental health. These topics range from mantras, self-care and creating healthy boundaries. The Unwind has featured guests such as Venus Williams, Usain Bolt, and Boris Kodjoe who discussed topics related to maintaining faith, family, spiritual and mental health and making mistakes. All in all, in this holiday season take control of your holiday self-care and take steps to help prevent stress, anxiety and depression. It’s essential to plan, engage in positive thinking and take a breather when you need to.
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