For some, the holidays can provide a break from work, school, and other daily routines, and they can be a welcome way to reconnect with family and friends. For others, the holidays can be hard, especially when facing mental health stress and challenges that aren’t encountered earlier in the year, like seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that impacts mood and behavior when seasons change.
Learn about the challenges to mental health that holidays can present, and how to advocate for better well-being through mindfulness and professional help.
Why is mental health important during the holidays?
For individuals and families who are affected by mental health, the holiday season can bring about unique challenges and emotions. For many living with mental health illnesses, stress from the holidays can contribute to worsening symptoms. In order to effectively address our emotions and feelings, understanding your mental health stressors and addressing challenges in a healthy way can help with managing stress and experiencing more enjoyable moments during the holiday season.
What mental health challenges do we face during the holidays?
There are many challenges that the holiday season can bring, especially to those who may be already experiencing mental health concerns. For people with families, people experiencing loneliness, or workdays or workloads that increase during the holiday seasons, the holidays can present emotional, mental, and spiritual challenges.
Some common challenges people may experience during the holidays include:
- Increased stress from work, family, or domestic obligations
- Worsening symptoms of mental health
- Risky behavior as an outlet for stress
- Increased loneliness or isolation
- Difficulty navigating familial relationships
- Difficulty navigating relationships with food
- Difficulty navigating religious observations
Approximately 64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse. If you want to learn more about how the holidays can exacerbate mental health symptoms, consider speaking with a provider at Salveo Integrative Health to discuss your concerns in a safe space that is judgement-free.
Pandemic-related challenges and Seasonal Affective Disorder
Pandemic-related stress and challenges during COVID-19 has resulted in the quality of mental health decreasing for many. The stress of the variants, new guidelines, and health risks have brought about an increase in anxiety and depression. As the holiday season gets closer, there may be growing concern about gatherings and health risks. It is always important to take steps to stay safe to prioritize your mental health and well-being.
When the seasons change, it can result in mood changing and feeling down when the days get shorter in the fall and winter for some people. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression characterized by its recurrent seasonal pattern, with symptoms lasting about 4 to 5 months per year. Symptoms include experiencing changes in mood, appetite, sleep quality, and low energy or interest in activities. If you think you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, you can speak with a health care provider or make an appointment with Salveo Integrative Health to discuss your concerns with a mental health specialist.
Tips to Care for Your Mental Health During the Holidays
Understanding your mental health and being equipped with tools to help navigate challenges can help you prioritize your mental well-being during the holiday season.
1. Set boundaries with yourself and others
Recognizing what your limits are is an important part of mental health well-being. One way to approach setting boundaries is by giving yourself permission to limit or forego interaction or exposure to situations that are detrimental to your mental well-being. Informing loved ones and family of your limits can help guide conversations about setting boundaries during events occurring in the holiday season.
For help with setting and creating boundaries, consider speaking with a provider to discuss how you can set boundaries for yourself and others.
2. Practice mindfulness by being kind to yourself
It can be easy to want to avoid experiencing certain emotions or feelings in order to pass through the holiday seasons. Prioritizing your mental health and well-being by being kind to yourself can be one way to healthily cope with the challenges that the holidays can bring.
Some ways to engage with mindfulness include:
- Instead of avoiding or ignoring your feelings, understand they are valid to experience.
- Practice being compassionate to yourself, by treating yourself with the same kindness you treat friends or loved ones when they may be struggling.
- Setting and following limits and boundaries to interactions and exposure to activities or events that may exacerbate stress or tension.
- Being willing to work with your emotions and try different approaches to seeking help.
- Engaging in positive interactions by spending time with people you care about, through a letter, email, or call.
Additionally, seeing a provider to develop healthy behavioral practices can help with coping with negative emotions and new stress.
3. Care for your body and your mind
Taking steps to care for your body and mind can help reduce stress and maintain good feelings and mental wellness during the holiday season. This includes prioritizing your time and recognizing needs by understanding physical and emotional limits.
Relaxation and physical activity can also be a way to keep your mind and body healthy when mental health challenges are presented. Exercise helps people feel better and can aid with sleep and improve mood and help increase overall mental health. Deep breathing and mediation can be calming and relaxing aids to decompress during a stressful season.
4. Be a mental health advocate for yourself and others
When left untreated, mental health can be debilitating for oneself and those around them. The holiday blues can affect people of all ages, including children and the elderly. People living with mental illness are often affected during the holiday season. Individuals, families and friends can be informed of symptoms to better support one another. If you or a loved one are struggling, reach out to your friends and family for emotional support, find a support group, or seek professional help.
At Salveo Integrative Health, we strive to provide a tranquil and comforting environment for our community.
Care for your Mental Health with Salveo Integrative Health
The holidays can bring about unique challenges for every individual. The emotions one experiences can be varied, and it is okay for feelings to be mixed, positive or negative during the winter. The diverse and caring professionals at Salveo Integrative Health are ready to help you navigate life’s challenges during the holiday seasons.
Our team specializes in behavioral and mental health treatments. Our treatments for depression include therapy and our flagship non-medicated Neurostar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy. TMS therapy is designed for patients with major depressive disorder who have tried medications and other therapies without success.
For therapy and treatment in Lawrenceville or Flowery Branch, GA, contact us today. Book an appointment with Salveo Integrative Health to aid with your mental wellness during the holidays.