When I sat down to think about the upcoming holidays, I stopped and thought about previous years. I always get so stressed out and end up not having a good time. My mental health really goes downhill.
I found an interesting fact; A NAMI study showed that 64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse.
This year I have decided to focus on my mental health, which should flow over to my family having a better holiday too!
Please remember I am not a therapist or psychiatrist. I do share my real-life experiences in coping with mental health. I have researched these tips and have done them myself or plan to try them.
You should always seek professional treatment, especially if you are in crisis. Reach out to your support team immediately. You can call 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you are in the USA.
Your Feelings Are Valid. Accept Them
My blood pressure increases as soon as I sit down to focus on Thanksgiving. I get so stressed out! I am the one that usually goes around blowing the “be positive” horn, but sometimes we need just to stop and acknowledge that we are not OK.
It is OK NOT to be OK!
Our feelings are valid! When we are in the grips of anxiety, we need to
- See it
- Accept it
- Deal with it
- Move on.
Personally, I feel like I am lying to myself if I don’t even acknowledge that I am having an anxiety attack. I need to sit there for a moment and feel the physical things happening in my body.
Then I can use coping skills like taking a deep breath or focusing on things around me. If we immediately jump to “I’m OK,” then we aren’t going to use the coping skills properly.
Plan Everything & Be Realistic
Let’s get down to rock this holiday season! Plan everything!!! Don’t leave one little detail out or think it is too small, and we will just remember it (because we won’t)
I recommend printing a planner. You can find most of them for free online. They help me keep my peace of mind. I use an online planner program for this blog, which turned into my life planner because it is so helpful.
What do you want to plan?
Who will attend your gathering
-How many people to plan for
A budget for:
- gift bags, boxes, or paper
- Supplies (tape)
- place cards or invitations
- Holiday morning breakfast
- small snacks
- the dinner
- Include meals leading up to the event, so you aren’t ordering pizza after cooking all day.
- what can be made ahead
- baking schedule
-all details down to accessories
- time to shop
- time for visiting outside our household
- time for entertaining at our household
- time to clean
- time to decorate
- time to cook
- time clean up afterward
- who we are buying for
- what to give
I am already stressed out writing all this down! That is OK because I can get the stress out of the way now, be relaxed, and have fun when the time comes!
Be realistic. This is an extensive list here. If we have $100 for gifts, we should not plan to buy everyone a pony. The same goes for our time. Remember, we all get 24 hours daily.
Saying NO is OK
We seriously can not say yes to everything people ask of us and preserve our mental health.
If our neighbor asks us to his company Christmas party, it is OK to pass. Nicely say, “thank you, we, unfortunately, can’t make it.” People will understand that a lot is going on and we can not do everything.
Saying No might be to spending time with annoying family. Yes, I am going there. We are focusing on our mental health right now. If someone in our family sucks my very life out, I do not need to see them around the holidays.
I can still be pleasant and friendly and say” No thank you” to their invitation or not include them on my invite list.
Focus on your health
- Eat well
- Get enough sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Mood-affecting weather and time changes
Let’s be honest; there are way too many goodies everywhere we look during the holidays. If we eat a pound of sugar and drink a ton of caffeine, we will feel like garbage!
Let’s get our bodies moving! Get in a good stretch before we tackle dusting the apartment. Exercise can relieve tension in our bodies and also release happy endorphins.
Sleep schedule! Oh, these words, how they haunt me! I am awful at the sleep schedule. It is so important, and I still struggle so much with it. Sleep schedules lower your risk of severe illnesses like heart disease. It helps with reducing stress and improving moods.
Holiday parties often serve alcohol. I love an occasional glass of wine, but it is NOT a good idea while taking psychiatric medicines. Overindulging in alcohol is not good for our health.
In the winter months, the weather is so overcast. Your body needs the sun. If we can go out in the middle of the day when the sun is the highest, that will help. I also recommend a sunlamp for the wintertime. It is shown that low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression.
When Dealing with Family
Family can be a blessing or a curse. I personally love the family that you can choose, like friends. I have yet to make it a secret that the family outside my apartment has not treated me well. If you want to learn more about my childhood and teen years, read Uncover My Account In The Journey Of My Life. Try these tips if we absolutely must see the family with whom we do not get along.
Set aside differences. Talk to your family and agree to disagree. Set it aside for the holidays.
Set boundaries. Try to limit your time with difficult family. We need to set limits to avoid agreements, like refraining from specific conversations.
Spend time alone.
When I am feeling overwhelmed, I need to be alone for a while. It is easier for me to be quiet. Spending time alone is NOT being selfish. It will allow time to refuel.
If we have a religious affiliation, we could spend this time in prayer. If not, maybe meditation or just quietly reflecting on the real reason for the holidays.
Our mindset is everything. If we can think positively, then things will go better. If we let ourselves get down, the same is true.
When there are so many things going on around me, it helps to focus on what I control. Even if I think there is NOTHING in my control, there is always something. My breath, I can take a deep breath. I take an inventory of everything that I can control around me while I try to regain composure.
The holidays can be stressful with so many tasks that need our attention, and I also get an overwhelming sense that everyone’s holiday joy depends on me finishing these tasks. That statement is not valid, but it sure feels that way.
We need to remember what really matters. Our families and friends are what really matter. If I forget to buy gift labels, it is NOT a crisis. I can cut up some printer paper and use that. The real reason I am running around is to make memories with my family. They will not remember that I forgot something.
Things to do for your holiday mental health tips
Offer Thanks: It is easy for me to fall into despair and doom when I am depressed. I am not exaggerating. I can not adequately put into words the hopelessness of depression. To combat it, I am thankful. If we all could spend time thinking about everything we are grateful for, people would be kinder, and the world would be much better!
Acts of kindness: When we surprise people with little gifts or something thoughtful, it really makes their day, BUT it also makes ours! I feel so happy when I can make someone smile. We don’t always have to see that smile, either. We could pay for the car behind us for their Starbucks order. Doing that creates a snowball effect; they might pay for the following persons and so on.
Volunteer: According to an article by The University of Texas at Dallas titled “Timely Topic: Why Do People Volunteer During the Holidays?”
Volunteerism typically increases by 50% during November and December.
While it is essential to support organizations all year, many people like to give around the holidays. The needs are profound. So many people are displaced or living in poverty. Many organizations give blankets, food, and other services to help anyone in need.
It feels excellent in our hearts when we can volunteer our time, talents, and or money.
- Reach out to friends and family
- Keep up or seek therapy.
- Seek professional Help if you need it
Let’s face it, we might do every one of these steps and still need additional help. I know my limits even though I push them; I know when to say “Enough.” We all need to see that point.
Sometimes I just need family or a friend for support, and I will be OK. Other times I need to reach out to my therapist or doctors. I can not stress enough that we have to reach out. Please don’t suffer alone or think that bad thoughts will get better.
If we are in crisis, it is an emergency to get help. Calling the support system is a must, or call the 988 crisis lifeline (In the US). Texting is available to 988 also.
I pray for all my friends, family, and readers that everyone has the best Holiday season ever. I know it is a stressful time for many people. I am one of them. I have felt on edge this week preparing for Thanksgiving, and I am only taking care of the four of us this year. (I say four because my puppy Jonah always counts!)
A personal thing here for a moment, to those who know me, I am a Christian Country girl. Nothing can make my heart dance more than a country song about God. I have been playing “Thank You Lord (ft. Thomas Rhett & Florida Georgia Line)” on repeat this week, preparing for Thanksgiving.
I was looking for a message about mental health and the holidays on YouTube, and honestly, I just want to put this here. Turn it UP!
I plan to be my best and let my mental health rule. If I need to lie down, I am going to. If I can rock out dinner and play a game with Joe afterward, I will do that.
Please listen to your mind and body and only do what you can. It will not be a good memory if you push too much and have to go to the hospital.
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
One response to “Holiday Mental Health Tips You Need To Know”
I LOVE the picture of the gingerbread cookie in the bath. Too cute! Also, I must say that I disagree just a teensy bit about the emergency pizza. Sometimes, after a really long day of prepping, ordering a pizza can be the best thing possible! (smile)