By Lise Fitzsimmons MA, RP (Q), Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)
One of the goals with Psychotherapy is to increase your sense of wellbeing and to help you gain a fuller understanding of yourself and your feelings. Therapy seeks to provide you healthy coping skills in response to challenging experiences and feelings.
While the holidays do not necessarily exacerbate mental health specifically, they do have a tendency to create additional stress. The additional stress can then trigger anxiety and depression, and this year it is complicated by the pandemic. I am including some tips that I hope will be useful.
- Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones for other reasons, realize that it is normal to feel sadness and grief.
- Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events or communities.
Be realistic. The holidays do not have to be perfect. Even though your holiday plans may look different this year, you can find ways to celebrate.
- Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends for who they are, even if they do not live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion.
- Stick to a budget. Before you do your gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget.
- Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, connecting with friends and other activities. Consider whether you can shop online for any of your items.
- Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
- Don’t abandon healthy habits. Do not let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
- Take a breather. Make some time for yourself.
- Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.