Holidays and Mental Health
Well, we made it through Thanksgiving, and now we are on to Christmas and New Year’s, as well as many other beautiful faith-filled traditions at this time of year. Last time I wrote, we talked about a few ways to better manage the ups and downs of the holidays. Because life is busy, and the holidays just make us busier, it can be a pretty stressful time of year. This week’s blog is about many of the same things as the last blog, but more from the perspective of managing the holidays if you or a loved one is dealing with a mental health disorder.
Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and all other mental health disorders do not take a holiday during the holidays. According to Mental Health Ministries, one in four families is living with someone who is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Many people may be uncomfortable sharing this information with others, so they feel quite alone in dealing with their illness or the illness of someone they love. This same website has a great brochure that can be downloaded and offers tips on how to navigate the holidays if: 1) you are living with a mental illness, or 2) have a family member or friend with a mental illness.
For those living with a mental illness, it is recommended to:
- Stick with your already-established healthy routines for sleeping, nutrition, exercise, work, etc. as best as possible.
- Excuse yourself from an overwhelming situation – even if only for a few minutes, to regain composure or that sense of peace or centeredness.
- Continue taking your medicines on time and in the proper dosages.
If you are attending a holiday gathering and concerned about feeling overwhelmed, let an understanding friend or family member know you might need to rely on them for some extra support. Here are a couple of other suggestions: Give yourself permission to set realistic goals, to set a healthy boundary and say “no” to one-too-many parties, and let go of the idea of perfectionism and making everyone happy, especially during the holidays.
Here is a list of resources to help those with mental health disorders and their families at any time of year:
It is my pleasure and privilege to write this blog and to connect with you in some way. To each of you, I sincerely wish you a beautiful and blessed Holiday Season!
Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.