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How To Handle the Stress of Holiday Season

More or less 50% of Americans will be battling some sort of mental disorder during their lifetime, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, as per the CDC report, one in every 25 people is battling a serious mental health disorder, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or a type of major depression. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, also known as, NAMI conducted a separate survey in 2014 and discovered that more than 60% of people who are struggling with mental health disorders find holidays to be the most challenging.

The Holiday Season Is Stressful

The holiday season can be taxing for anyone, even to those who don’t suffer from am mental health condition. This is because almost everybody is put under some kind of pressure, knowingly or unknowingly, to splurge on food, drinks, and most especially, gifts. People who have recently lost their family members or parted ways with their families find the holiday season to be extra-stressful, too. Basically, anyone can experience the ‘holiday blues’. Therefore, prioritizing mental health is important for just about everyone. If you have someone in your family who suffers from a mental illness, how can you give them adequate support during the holidays? Here’s how you can do that.

Manage Their Expectations

The holidays always bring to us the pressure to splurge on things we don’t need and to participate in events which we might not necessarily want to partake in. If one of your loved ones is feeling the heat, talk to them and try to help them out with their budget for gifts. If you are the one in the family who is battling a mental health condition, and you feel you are going down that slope, just take a moment to evaluate your spending limit and the money you have. Remember that the holidays are that time of the year when we measure ourselves against our peers, and if you are doing just fine, it’s time you should hold your water. Tide through the criticisms and comparisons, and just enjoy yourself.

Draw Back If You Need

The holidays can be particularly challenging for people who have bipolar disorder, and they typically experience intermittent periods of mania and depression. Alcohol consumption and overstimulation may make things worse for them, and the festive proceedings are a big reason why they forget to take their medications and make appointments with their doctors. Managing a mental illness implies knowing which medicine to take and what time, and if someone in your family cannot remember when to take their medications, you can help them with that. Remember that you shouldn’t judge them for taking a break from all the festivities or leaving a party a bit early.

Reach Out To People With Mental Illness

If you know somebody who is suffering from a mental illness, just text them to let them know that you care for them and that you are thinking about them when they are not around. Nobody really wants to be lonely, especially during the holidays. Just let your friends and loved ones know that you are always with them, but do not force them to go out to a function or a party which they don’t want to attend at all. Encourage them to come over your place for a holiday dinner or a get-together, but do not make them feel guilty if they decline. People with mental illness should not feel like you are beleaguering them, but they should get the feeling that you are always available to them during the holidays, too.

Monitor Moods

If you are dealing with ‘holiday blues’, you should start tracking your emotions so you can monitor feelings and moods in an organized manner. You can use a journal or diary to monitor your mood. This way, you can easily keep track of where it is headed. Is your mood going up? Or is it going down? If you can track your mood in this way, you will surely know when to go see a doctor or when to take your medication. You can even reflect on those days when you were in a bad mood and see what you can do so it won’t happen again in the future.

If somebody very close to you doesn’t show up during a holiday party, text them or make a phone call just to be sure that they are doing well. If somebody is acting weird or out of character, you should try reaching out to them. If you need further assistance, seek doctor’s advice or call a helpline number.

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