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Tips for Mental Wellness During the Holidays

Posted: January 19, 2022

Even in years without a global pandemic, many people find the holidays hectic, stressful, exhausting, or depressing. According to the American Psychological Association, 44% of women and 33% of men surveyed feel stressed during the holidays. This can trigger the Holiday Blues, feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. On the opposite end of the spectrum, this is also a time where individuals may become acutely aware of their loneliness or feelings of grief over the loss of a loved one.

The Holiday Blues can happen to anyone, at any age. There are many things happening around the holidays that can act as triggers. The holidays can be particularly difficult for those living with mental illness, according to a recent survey, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 24% of individuals with a diagnosed mental illness reported that the holidays make their condition “a lot” worse, and 40% reported it to be “somewhat worse”.

Managing the feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression can seem overwhelming, but there are many simple tips that can help. The first step is to identify the trigger of your distress, is it financial? Nostalgia? Upcoming visits with family? If the feelings become overwhelming, it is best to seek help from a behavioral health professional or your doctor. Today, this is more convenient than ever - with telehealth enabling access to mental health support from the comfort of your own home. 

What are some tips to help overcome Holiday Blues?

  1. Work within a budget: Financial woes can be a main trigger during the holidays. Set a budget early in the year and start saving. When the holidays arrive, stick to using cash or debit for purchases.
  2. Too many obligations: You may have unrealistic expectations or have taken on too many obligations. Make a list and prioritize what’s most important to you, cutting out the things that aren’t a priority and share the responsibility of holiday tasks with others. Set a self-care routine and stick to it.
  3. Family stress and conflict: Every family has unique dynamics, and not everyone may get along. If a touchy issue arises, shift the topic of discussion, or suggest revisiting the topic at a later time and excuse yourself to help in the kitchen or visit with family members in another room.
  4. Loneliness and loss: Feelings of loneliness and loss of a loved one can arise during the holidays. Acknowledge your feelings of loss, then establish a new tradition to honor your loved one. Find a winter hobby, or local charitable organization to volunteer with. Spend time with supportive and caring people who are uplifting.
  5. Year-end reflection: The end of the year is a time where many of us reflect on what has changed or stayed the same. Give yourself credit for what went right, focus on what you do have instead of dwelling on what you feel went wrong or that you are missing.
  6. Practice mindfulness: The holidays come and go quickly, focus on staying in the moment and avoid dwelling on the past or the future.