With holiday music playing in stores, Starbucks releasing their new holiday latte, and wreathes hanging on doors, I can’t help but anticipate the upcoming holiday season. And while society projects the holidays as a time of joy, parties, and wonderful family gatherings, it is important to remember that the holidays can be a very challenging time, particularly for those struggling with grief and loss, loneliness, illnesses, economic concerns, or relational issues like divorce and separation. Even individuals who aren’t struggling with the aforementioned concerns often feel overwhelmed by the unrealistic expectations, family strife, and to-do lists that seem to go along with this time of year. Additionally, many people report feeling down, or a sense of disappointment after the holiday hype.
Following are a list of suggestions to help you this holiday season:
- Maintain your normal routines like exercising, sleeping, attending therapy sessions/group meetings, taking medication, spiritual/religious practices, and self-care activities as much as possible.
- Stay in touch and reach out to supportive people in your life as stress/anxiety/depression comes up.
- Set limits and boundaries when necessary to take care of yourself.
- Try to set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and others. There is no such thing as the “perfect” holiday we often imagine.
- Try to stay out of criticizing, judging, or comparing yourself to others. Comparison (think social media) leads to feeling isolated and not good enough.
- Join a support group if you are struggling with mental illness, grief and loss, separation or divorce.
- Talk about your feelings with people who care about you. Ask for what you need.