As the year comes to an end, the holiday season rolls around. It’s one of the busiest and most popular times of the year. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, the holidays are a time to get together with friends and family to celebrate everything you’re most thankful for in life. However, the business and stress of the holidays impact your mental health in ways that you might not have thought about before. The holidays involve gatherings with friends and family, gift-giving, cooking and baking, traveling, and so much more. It may be an enjoyable time for many, but all of the stress from the holidays can make mental health struggles much worse.
The Holiday Blues are a real issue that affects countless people from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. A host of factors play into how the holidays impact your mental health over this period. When you understand how the holidays affect you, you can take the proper steps to prioritize your mental health during the holidays. While the holidays are a time for joy, love, and thankfulness, they can be stressful for many people. Rates of depression, anxiety, and stress rise over these few months.
What are the holiday blues?
We think of a joyous and happy time when we imagine the holidays. The days are full of time spent with those you love, gift-giving, and food. However, when you take a step back, you start to understand why so many people experience more stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms. The holidays are full of high expectations from family and friends, whether from their gifts or reactions to a new recipe. In many cases, people feel extreme loneliness. They see others spending time with the ones they love, but they don’t have a large gathering to go to themselves. These expectations put a great deal of stress on everyone.
The National Institute on Mental Illness recently surveyed individuals to measure the effects the holidays had on people’s mental health. Twenty-four percent of those that live with mental illness found that the holidays made their symptoms a lot worse, while almost 755 respondents said the holidays added to them feeling sad or dissatisfied. Sixty-eight percent felt financially stressed, while 63 percent experienced too much pressure. Nearly half of respondents couldn’t be with their loved ones.
Reasons the holidays impact your mental health.
The holiday season is a hectic time of the year. Many people travel long distances to visit family. There’s always something going on that people have to attend. While the holiday season is a joyous time, it can weigh heavy on many people. In many cases, people don’t even recognize how the holidays impact their mental health. While the Holiday Blues are temporary, if you don’t acknowledge what’s going on and take action, they can develop into mental health disorders well after the holidays are over.
Many factors affect your mental health over the holiday season, like,- Planning holiday dinners and gatherings
- Buying gifts for loved ones
- Traveling to and from holiday destinations
- Spending too much money on gifts and travel
- Spending the holidays alone
- Feeling like you have to throw the perfect party or give the perfect gift
- Not being able to afford gifts for your loved ones
- Feeling like you won’t meet expectations
Tips to safeguard your mental health.
As previously stated, the holidays can be a stressful time for anyone. The holidays may be about spending time with your friends and family, but don’t forget to take some time for yourself. It can be easy to put yourself on the back burner in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but taking care of yourself and your mental health ensures that you don’t experience burnout. If you get to the point of exhaustion, that won’t be good for anyone, and it especially won’t be good for your mental health. Here are some ways to put yourself first and take care of your mental health during the holiday season.
Get enough sleep.
Getting great quality sleep is essential for your physical and mental well-being. Sleep deprivation can increase rates of insomnia and severely impact your mood. Adults should aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep in a cool, dark room. You may also benefit from a white noise machine to block out household noises. Avoid blue lights, like televisions or phones, an hour or two before bed if you have trouble falling asleep.
Create and stick to a schedule.
When it comes to the holiday season, it’s easy to detract from your routine, especially with incoming invitations to social events. It would be best to stick to your routine, no matter what circumstances arise. Even if you can’t follow your schedule for the entire day, stick with it as much as possible. For example, continue to follow your morning routine, even if you have events later in the evening. Most importantly, continue to stick with your medication schedule or dosage unless instructed to do otherwise.
Create a budget.
Stress has an enormous impact on your physical and mental well-being. The holidays can certainly add financial stress to your list of concerns. To reduce finance-related stress, create a budget for holiday gift buying. Once you make that budget, stick with it as much as possible.
There’s a plethora of research highlighting the benefits of exercise for your mental health. Exercise can lift your mood, reduce stress, and give you some well-deserved time to decompress. There are many ways to include exercise in your daily routine, like going for a walk, going for a family hike, or taking your dog to the park.
Manage stress with healthy outlets.
Despite your best efforts to eliminate stress, you’ll likely still experience some stress during the holidays. Remember, the key isn’t to eliminate all sources of stress but to reduce what stress you can and then manage the rest of it with some stress management techniques. During holiday get-togethers, it might be tempting to relieve stress by pouring a drink or using food as comfort. However, healthier stress-busting options are meditation, calling a friend, or getting fresh air.
Reach out for help.
Above all else, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If you’re feeling lonely, depressed, or anxious, you don’t need to go through it alone. Reach out to loved ones and let them know how you think. They might alleviate some of the stress that comes with the holiday season. Also, it would be best if you didn’t feel ashamed of your feelings; they’re perfectly normal. If you feel like your loved ones can’t alleviate your stress, talking to a licensed professional may do some good in perking up your mood.