This time of year, the holiday lights will sparkle and shine, but inside you may find yourself feeling anything but joyful. If that’s the case this year, you’re not alone! As we prepare for the holiday season, it’s important to acknowledge that this time of year can bring a unique set of challenges for our mental health. While the holidays are often associated with warmth and celebration, they can also be a source of stress, anxiety, and loneliness, as well as an increase in depression. That’s part of what makes this season the perfect time to prioritize and take control of your mental health care.
Understanding the Holiday Blues
For many, the holiday season can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, grief, or financial strain. The pressure to create picture-perfect celebrations, coupled with the expectation of continuous joy, can lead to the “holiday blues”. This emotional strain can take a toll on mental health, manifesting as increased stress, anxiety, and major spikes in depression.
Social Expectations and Loneliness
During the holidays, societal expectations often emphasize togetherness and joy. However, for those who may be estranged from family or have experienced significant losses, the emphasis on togetherness can intensify feelings of isolation. And even if you aren’t alone for the holidays, you may still feel that way, whether or not you’re surrounded by loved ones. It’s essential to recognize that it’s okay not to feel festive all the time and to seek support if needed.
Gift-giving, travel, and hosting can place a significant financial burden on individuals and families during the holidays. Financial stress is a common trigger for anxiety and can impact mental health. Setting realistic budgets, communicating openly about financial limitations, and focusing on the true spirit of the season can help alleviate some of these pressures.
A path to better mental health
Despite the challenges, the holiday season also presents a unique opportunity for you to take the first step on the path to better mental health throughout the year. Rather than succumbing to stressors, consider using this time as an opportunity to reach out for guidance and support, like the kind offered by the compassionate staff at Active Path.
Set Realistic Expectations: Embrace imperfections and set realistic expectations for yourself. Understand that not every moment needs to be filled with joy, and it’s okay to prioritize your well-being over perfection.
Establish Boundaries: Clearly communicate your boundaries with loved ones. If certain activities or gatherings are causing undue stress, be honest about your limits. Healthy relationships thrive on open communication.
Connect with Others: Reach out to friends, family, or support networks. If you’re feeling lonely, initiate plans or join community events. Social connections are crucial for maintaining good mental health.
Practice Mindfulness: Take a moment each day to practice mindfulness or meditation. These practices can help reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and foster a sense of calm amidst the holiday hustle.
Seek Professional Support: If the holiday season intensifies existing mental health challenges, there’s never been a better time to seek support from mental health professionals. At Active Path, we offer a wide array of mental health services that can help you get your life, and your joy, back – not just in December, but all year long. From TMS to cognitive behavioral therapy to treatments like Spravato (esketamine), there are many options available for you.
The holidays may bring both joy and challenges, but they also offer an excellent opportunity to prioritize your mental health. By setting realistic expectations, connecting with others, and always seeking professional support, you can take control of your mental health during this festive season. Remember, your mental health matters, and investing time and energy into the right kind of care can make all the difference.
Book a free 15-20 phone consultation online with us today to discuss the treatment options offered by Active Path Mental Health and see if we are a good fit for your care.