While the holiday season is often marked by bright lights and festivities a plenty, it is often ignored as one of the most stressful times of the year.
There’s an avalanche of unspoken expectations that come with the season. From hosting parties, to decorating, arduous travel schedules, buying the perfect gifts for family and friends, and the pressure to always be jolly, there are so many things we can feel pressured by.
For those that have few friends and family, the holidays can be a stinging time marked by severe loneliness. A study by the National Alliance on Mental Health showed that approximately 64% of people with mental illness claim the holidays worsen their condition.
While there is no cure-all, several ways exist to help lessen the negative impact that this season can sometimes have on our overall mental health and the holidays.
Be realistic about your financial limits. If people only expect expensive gifts from you then they probably don’t deserve anything at all from you.
Don’t get caught in the trap of believing that your worth is bought in a store and spend the bulk of the next year paying off credit debt.. Make gifts more personal and meaningful, that doesn’t mean extravagant.
It may be cliché, but the thought is really what counts. Don’t forget that!
Be honest and open about your struggles. Suffering in silence is a dark trap. While I understand the thinking of not wanting to burden others, what are friends and family for?
Tell those you love and are closest with of your troubles. I have found that vocalizing your pain and worry to people who love and care for you to be extremely cathartic.
In a world of acquaintances, there is always someone that will answer the phone anytime and is always willing to listen and support you. Keep these loved ones close.
Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. I detest the stigma that those with mental illness often face. It is why so many people often find their condition worsening because of the fact that mental illness is often erroneously seen as a weakness.
There is NO shame in protecting your mental health and taking care of yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to loved ones then seeking professional help is a necessity.
NAMI affiliates are located throughout the US as well as many other mental health organizations. NAMI also offers a free helpline: 800-950-6264.
Please remember to take care of yourself this time of year. Don’t let unrealistic societal expectations weigh you down. Don’t burden your wallet too much and find yourself in debt just because rampant commercialism says you should. Keep gifts personal so there is a real weight to them to friends and loved ones.
Be open to those you are comfortable and trusting of. Let your loved ones love you, open your heart and you will find those that will always have open arms for you.
Finally, sometimes professional help is an absolute necessity. Even if only a phone call, you will find that professional help can be an absolute savior.
Ignore the stigmas and heal. Happy Holidays and keep your mind safe!