The holiday season is here. For many, this is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, exchange gifts and cheer, and if we’re being honest, eat way too much. Songs are written about how this is the “happiest season of all.”
But for some, the holidays are a darker, lonelier time of year. Those among us suffering from depression and other types of mental disorders can find their symptoms worsening during the holiday season. According to the latest mental health research, 64% of people with a diagnosed mental illness say that the holiday season makes their conditions “a lot worse” or “somewhat worse.”
If you struggle with mental illness, it is important to be aware of the particular pressures of the holiday season. If you are equipped with the right tools and strategies to cope, you can make your holidays smoother, happier, and most importantly, healthier.
Dealing With Grief During The Holidays
Grief and bereavement can hit especially hard during the holidays, given how much time we’re expected to spend with family. When a loved one is no longer with us, this season can remind us more acutely of the loss.
Initially, we may want to avoid traditions with our remaining relatives entirely. However, it may actually be helpful to come together with your loved ones at this time of year. Yes, being with family reminds you of those you’ve lost. But remember that the other members of your family have lost someone as well. Being able to grieve together and focusing on the memories and traditions you all share can help you get through the hard times and come out stronger.
Self-Care During The Holidays
Whenever possible, spend the time and effort to take care of yourself during the holidays. The gatherings and rituals of this time of year come along with a lot of pressure and responsibility, which can make illnesses like anxiety and depression even worse. So it’s important to make sure you take the time to see to your own needs before you worry about anyone else. Eat well when you can, exercise, and get enough sleep.
Final Thoughts For The Holidays
For those struggling with mental health, the chaos of the season can have another negative side effect. If you are taking medication for your mental illness, be aware that the change in routine around holiday parties and travel to distant relatives could make it easier to forget your meds. Falling off your med regimen will make all of the stress of the holidays so much worse.
Dickinson Center is here to help. If you have any questions, please contact us. You can talk to one of our providers about what plans you should make for the holiday season.