Navigating Mental Health Over the Holiday Season

Holiday Cheer?

Andy Williams croons, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Is it, though? For many of us, the thought of sharing Thanksgiving turkey, Hanukkah latkes, and Christmas cookies with our families is, simply, overwhelming. Andy Williams entreating us to, “Be of good cheer!” doesn’t help either, does it? So how do we maintain our mental health when we’re managing the stresses and expectations of the holidays?

Causes of Holiday Stress

In 2022, daily life is stressful. Like many economies worldwide, the U.S. economy isn’t in a great place and we’re all feeling the effects of inflation. We’re still dealing with COVID. Some of us are dealing with long COVID while others are dealing with the loss of loved ones from this dreaded disease. Many of us – especially those with mental health challenges that complicate the easiest of days – are stretched nearly to the maximum capability of coping. Enter…the holidays.

On top of the usual effort it takes to manage mental health and well-being, we’re faced with additional stresses. These may include:

  • Travel
  • Finding the perfect gift for everyone on our list
  • Financial strain
  • Guilt over not being able to give as much as you’d like to
  • Family expectations
  • Jam packed schedules

All or any of those can tax us so much that the holidays become unpleasant instead of a time for experiencing meaningful moments.

Signs of Holiday Stress

Holiday stress affects us much like other kinds of stress does. You’re likely experiencing holiday stress if you find yourself experiencing these symptoms during November or December:

How to Navigate It

There are ways to mitigate the stress you’re experiencing. To have happier ho-ho-holidays, you can:

  • Say no to things you really don’t want to do
  • Consider adding only one holiday event per week to your calendar
  • Decrease the number of people to whom you give gifts
  • Schedule time for self-care every single day
  • Exercise
  • Eat well most of the time
  • Allow yourself to indulge in holiday treats and eats without guilt
  • Set boundaries
  • Accept others’ boundaries
  • If you take medication, take it as prescribed every single day
  • Reach out for help if you need it

It’s vital that you find and incorporate stress management opportunities into your holiday season. Additional stressors contribute not only to difficulty enjoying the holidays but can be detrimental to your health if not managed well. It’s also important for you to enjoy the things that matter to you during the holiday season. You are worthy of doing that which makes you happy!

Help for the Holidays

To help manage holiday stress, stress from daily life, and/or other mental health concerns, Jason Meisel, NP, and Stephanie Owusu, PMHNP at Meisel NP Psychiatry provide services in New York state, New York City (Park Slope, Brooklyn area), New Jersey, and Connecticut.  

We’re committed to providing the care you need in an inclusive space so you can receive compassionate, professional mental health care and support. We take a patient-centered approach to care, are trauma-informed, and committed to providing individualized care for everyone. We are an LGBTQIA+ safe space.  Contact us at 740-777-6184 or [email protected] for help in navigating the holidays and beyond them.Disclaimer: The information contained here was not written by a medical doctor and is intended for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for medical advice.

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