Managing Holiday Stress

Written by Morgan O’Connell, NAMI Fox Valley Marketing & Dev. Coordinator

While the holidays bring cheer to many, some are left feeling isolated, exhausted, or stretched thin by the end of the season. Add in living or loving someone with a mental illness – and this time of year can bring on a lot of stress. There are things that can help us cope and make the holidays more manageable.

  1. Don’t overdo it! The holidays are often a time to indulge, but setting healthy boundaries in how we spend our time is crucial to maintaining our mental wellness. During winter, animals tend to rest. Whether they are hunkering down, hibernating, or just using the season to prepare for a busy spring, it is typically a time of respite. As humans, we tend to be drawn to the same sentiment, yet our holiday calendars fill up with social obligations as soon as the first leaf hits the ground. Reminding ourselves that it is okay and justified to recharge (and say no to plans!) will lessen the chance of getting “holiday burnout”.
  2. Look after your mental and physical health. Feelings of stress, anxiety and depression are common during this season. If nothing else, reassure yourself that these feelings are normal. Mental illness, for yourself or a loved one, doesn’t take a holiday. Incorporating healthy practices like getting enough sleep, keeping up with your regular routine, avoiding known triggers, eating and drinking within moderation, and maintaining healthy coping mechanisms will help curb these feelings.
  3. Spread cheer! Most people would like to spend the holidays with those they love. Many are not able to do so and this can be a difficult time to be alone or separated from loved ones. Finding ways to bring people together is one of the best ways to spread cheer this holiday season. If you know someone who will be alone over the holidays, reach out to them or offer to get together. This can make a massive difference to their holiday experience. If you don’t have close family or friends to spend time with over the holidays, consider reaching out to others who may be in the same situation. You’ll often find that you are not alone.

Stress during the holidays is normal. We hope that utilizing the above tips can make the weight of the season feel lighter. If you are having a hard time managing feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, we encourage you to talk to someone you trust, participate in a support group, contact a counselor, or utilize a helpline telephone service such as 988.

Wishing you good health, mental wellness, and laughter this holiday season!

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