Although holidays are usually thought of as times of celebration, for many who live with mental illnesses, they can bring numerous challenges. But proactive measures like the following can make managing mental health difficulties less of a hurdle.
Awareness of Triggers
Understanding the aspects of the holiday season that can make managing a mental illness more difficult can help those who live with these conditions be better prepared to deal with them. Triggers that can set off depression, agitation or mania include situations such as deviation from routine, pressure to participate in holiday activities, stress over extra expenses and family conflict. Taking proactive steps to offset the impact of these triggers can be of help to those living with mental health challenges. For example, support their decisions regarding which activities they want to attend or avoid.
Sticking with a self-care plan during the busyness of the holidays can be difficult, but doing so during this hectic time of year can be especially beneficial. Getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly and eating nutritious meals can help individuals living with mental illnesses manage well.
Holidays are often seen as a time when everyone should be full of cheer. But, for those who don’t feel joyful, these expectations can create pressure to act a certain way and prompt guilt when emotions don’t measure up to the feelings they’re “supposed” to have. Setting realistic expectations about enjoying the holidays can help alleviate the stress of the “shoulds.”
The holiday season can bring a seemingly endless stream of social gatherings and extra responsibilities, all of which lead to added stress and can make it harder to practice self-care and stick with a treatment plan. In addition, interaction with relatives and acquaintances who don’t understand the struggles of dealing with mental health difficulties can make holiday gatherings times of tension rather than merriment. Limiting commitments and setting healthy boundaries with family members can help to stem this stress and make it easier to navigate the season.
Supportive Friends and Family
Loved ones who understand the challenges of managing a mental illness during the holiday season can help to mitigate some of these hurdles. Supportive friends and family members can offer encouragement in sticking to a treatment plan and practicing self-care, as well as reinforce realistic expectations and boundaries.
All through the year, and especially during the holiday season, The Well Community provides a supportive network for those living with serious mental illnesses, offering encouragement and acceptance as they deal with these conditions. Members have opportunities to celebrate the holidays in ways that are comfortable and enjoyable for them, such as the annual holiday party. Although COVID-19 has prevented us from taking part in all the in-person festivities we typically enjoy this time of year, we’re grateful that we still have numerous opportunities to celebrate and to support our members in this season.
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