While the holidays are typically considered a season of joy, filled with merriment
and happy gatherings, they can be a real struggle for some people. They are
especially challenging for those with a diagnosed mental health condition.
A study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) showed that
approximately 24% of people battling a mental illness feel that the holidays make
their condition “a lot” worse and 40% “somewhat” worse.” Another study by All
Points North (APN) Lodge reported that 67% of the respondents suffering from
depression find that their depression increases during the holidays.
The festivities can amplify our stress and make maintaining a routine challenging.
While the movies would have us believe that this is the most wonderful time of
the year, it's anything but for many people.
From navigating complex family dynamics to managing finances, there are a
multitude of reasons why we see a spike in anxiety and stress during the holidays.
So, if you don’t feel jolly and upbeat during this holiday season, remember that
you’re not alone.
To help you cope with the holiday blues, we've put together some tips on how to
take care of your mental health this festive season:
Get plenty of sleep
When the pressures begin to mount, the first thing that ebbs away is our
full night’s sleep. Sleep has a direct impact on our mental health. Research
shows that when the quality of your sleep degrades, your symptoms of
depression and anxiety worsen. Set a goal to get between 7-8 hours of
sleep every night and maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Going to bed at
the same time every night will help you establish healthy sleep habits and
result in higher levels of energy and productivity during the day.
It’s easy to neglect self-care when you’re trying to check off items on your
never-ending to-do list. This is why scheduling time for self-care during the
holiday season is even more important. Make some time to indulge in
activities that feel calming and rejuvenating. It can be anything from taking a
short walk in nature to drinking hot chocolate.
When things get overwhelming, engage in deep breathing for 5 minutes to
ground yourself. Little acts of self-care throughout the day go a long way in
helping protect your mental health.
Cut back on social media
It’s easy to get sucked into mindless scrolling when you have extra time on
your hands and don’t feel like doing anything else. Seeing people post
about enjoying their holidays and celebrating can also lead you to compare
your behind-the-scenes with someone else’s highlight reel. This might be a
good time to take a break from social media and spend time on your
Instead of scrolling through social media when you are bored, you can
choose to go out with your loved ones or call up a friend.
Set a budget
Holidays can create financial stress and anxiety when you’re trying to pick
the right gifts for everyone. Creating a budget and sticking to it can bring
down the stress significantly. Remember, it’s not the price but the thought
behind the gift that matters. If you’re concerned about the money, you can
look into DIY gifts like a knitted scarf or homemade cookies. A handmade
gift feels even more special to the receiver because of the time and effort it
Look into volunteering opportunities
Volunteering during the holidays, meeting new people, and creating a
positive difference in the world might be just what you need to stave off the
holiday blues. Look up organizations in your area that you can support,
consider tutoring and mentoring kids, or simply offer your help to anyone
who might need it—a friend, colleague, or family member.
It’s not easy to tend to your mental health when it feels like everyone is
experiencing the magic of holidays. While they certainly can be magical for some,
it’s completely normal to not feel cheerful during this time.
Just remember to be kind toward yourself, practice self-care, and reach out to
loved ones when you’re feeling lonely.
Don’t put your well-being on the back burner this holiday season, try to take small
actions every day to manage your mental health and focus on things that bring
If you’re finding it difficult to deal with the pressure of the holidays or manage
your mental health during this festive season, you might want to consider talking
to a therapist who can offer you support and help you come up with an action plan
for the holidays.