The coming of fall represents the onset of a holiday season full of spooks, feasts, and yuletide cheer. Unfortunately, it also represents the onset of seasonal depression for thousands of Americans each year. Add on the general stress of planning all those get-togethers and gift-buying, and it can be a real drain. Those with mental illness can have an arduous struggle during this time of year. Even in an average year, this season can have some severe downs to go with the ups. Throw in the stress of an ongoing pandemic, and many may find themselves feeling hopeless.
Sustaining Your Mental Health During The Holiday Season
During the holiday season, those with mental health concerns face the risk of their condition worsening. Nearly 64% of those with mental illness report that this time of year makes things more challenging to manage. For some, this is due to the stress and anxiety the season can bring. For others, loneliness and depression are more apparent than ever. Some examples of struggles mental health patients have reported during the holiday season include:
- Schizophrenia patients report increased delusions and hallucinations
- Bipolar patients report more frequent periods of mania and depression.
- Anxiety disorders tend to experience higher instances of attacks.
COVID-19 has added new stressors that can make this season even more challenging regardless of your specific condition. Thankfully, you can take steps to help alleviate the stress and manage your symptoms during this time of year. Consider the following steps:
- Mask and Distance – The CDC have recently reported that even vaccinated individuals need to continue mask-wearing as variants flourish. Social distancing is still suggested, especially for the unvaccinated. Visiting with over-vaccinated individuals, including friends and family, can help alleviate loneliness and depression.
- Accept Your Needs – Your mental well-being needs to be central this time of year. Recognize your various triggers and take action to avoid them. Shop online for presents rather than facing the crowds. Give yourself plenty of time to rest away from your triggers.
- Embrace Gratitude – Being grateful for the good things in our lives has been shown to be powerfully therapeutic. This benefit is especially good for those struggling with mental health disorders.
- Respect Your Time – Don’t try to pack too much into any particular day. Your time is valuable, and prioritizing it will help keep stress down. Don’t feel guilty for turning down plans that don’t suit your schedule or lift your mood.
These are just four basic steps you can take to ease your worries and protect your health this holiday season.
Speak To Your Mental Health Provider For Additional Support
Throughout the season, your mental health should be your priority. This commitment may mean additional visits to your mental health provider. During these visits, you can strategize about maintaining your mental health while managing the demands of the season. At the very least, be sure you continue your regular schedule of treatment. This step can help provide a sense of stability and normalcy in a season known for being spontaneous.