Mental Health and the Holidays
So in addition to holiday stress, some of us can add in our internal struggles that don’t stop simply because it’s the holidays. It can feel bleak and never-ending like a Zombie Apocalypse.
Imagine you have an internal stress bucket that is half full from the year, then add in more stress from the holidays, and more stress because of your mental health. This is a recipe for your stress bucket to overflow this holiday season.
Internal Struggles Exasperated by this Holiday (Aka Zombie Apocalypse):
Be Kind to Yourself!
It is already quite bleak during a zombie apocalypse and in the same way so are the holidays. I have to go to the same Zombie gathering and ward off attacks, or Will I have the energy and motivation to pull off a celebration when it feels pointless?
Depression makes daily tasks difficult, then add the tensions of holiday prep and execution where everything feels difficult.
Distract from Anxious thoughts by being Mindful of your Present Moment!
Anyone with anxiety is probably worrying about finances, meal preparations, clothing, and house cleaning. Anxiety can latch onto anything important to you and during the holidays there is even more to worry about. Your usual worries exist as is and now there is an added layer of holiday worries.
Plan for These Interactions!
I am not referring to the fun, “crazy” ones that make you laugh. The fun ones are who I sit with at the dinner table, because they are such a joy to be around.
Here I am talking about the emotionally unstable, angry, explosive, often judgmental family members who constantly remind you of where you have fallen short. Don’t expect a sudden understanding of your situation, expect full negative form. This way you can prepare for their behaviors. You might even imagine them as Zombies, Zombies want to eat you and so you must attend functions with protection, emotional armor for these attacks.
Engage in Meaningful Activities!
The Death of loved ones is tough to move through when holidays are a reminder of who we have lost, and how much of a hole they have left in our lives. Telling funny stories, doing activities that remind you of your loved one can help adjust to their absence.
Internal and External Expectations
Keep Expectations in Check!
Expectations can suck the joy out of any event. When you are trying to make the best of a holiday expectations really have a way of clouding the event.
Illness or Unforeseen Circumstances
Focus on the Present Moment! (These Circumstances can be addressed before or after the holidays.)
There may be other circumstances that may be getting in your way this holiday season like illness, car breaking down, home repairs, or children failing school.
Balking at New Holiday Traditions
Be sure to Try New Traditions
Trying new things can create excitement and novelty and boast your mood.
Engage in as many social activities as you can!
The holidays become a reminder of what some people do not have socially, but desire to have. Especially during the Holidays. Also social anxiety can keep you from attending events.
Plan for an Increase in Symptoms!
If you have a trauma history, the holidays are bound to increase your symptoms. A Trauma history fills a stress bucket quicker than any thing else. So expect an increase in symptoms due to this stress overload.
Remember Lower Your Expectations, Try New Things, and Ask for Help:
These internal symptoms are difficult enough without the added stress of the holidays and certainly have the potential for an increase. Contact a therapist if you need extra support.