We’re in the thick of the holidays and, with all the joy and fun this time of year can bring, it often comes with other not-so-jolly feelings.
The stress of seeing family. The sadness of not being able to see loved ones. The financial anxiety of gift-giving … and pressure to pick the perfect present. The disruption of our daily lives, schedules, routines, etc. The travel, full stop.
When you rack it all up, it’s no wonder some folks particularly struggle around this time. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64% of those living with mental illness felt that their health conditions worsened around the holidays. That’s why we must remember to prioritize our mental health and do what we can to support others struggling in silence.
Here at Sexual+Being, we wanted to help you fortify yourself for the rest of the szn. So, we’ve put together some tips to help you navigate the post-Thanksgiving celebrations. Let’s get into it!
Find your holiday bliss … and focus on it
We know what you’re thinking: could this be a more vague section title? Well, if you can, please spare the eye-rolls — no we are not live, laugh, and love-ing the kick-off to this checklist. Instead, we are starting where all holidays should and that’s what makes us happy.
While we each have our unique stresses connected to this time of year, we also all have that one activity or tradition that encompasses why we like it. Personally, I love the small moments to connect more intentionally with family and close friends. That’s what powers me through my more solemn or stress-inducing moments.
When you’re feeling particularly unwell, ask yourself a question: What’s your holiday bliss? Once you answer that question for yourself, cherish that answer and let that motivate you at your lower moments.
Remember you are not alone
Speaking of lower moments, it’s important to remember that many around this time face negative emotions based on their unique lived experiences, past traumas, and personal lives.
Those negative emotions can quickly add up and feel overwhelming for some. But it’s important to remember — both individually and as a community — that we are never truly alone. There are several tools at your disposal to ensure you or your loved one can get the support they need. DC Health offers a series of online resources, telephone hotlines, and more on its website to allow those in need of help to get what they are looking for.
Celebrate you, yourself, and you
Tis the season to treat yourself, friends! And, yeah, we are dead serious.
What you do doesn’t have to be a “physical gift” — don’t let capitalism fool you! — and it certainly does not have to be expensive. Just make sure you are doing something solely for you.
Book that massage! Take that luxurious bubble bath! Cook your favorite meal! Read that book!
The options are endless, so it’s on you. Now go make a list just like St. Nick and check it twice so you can spend your “me time” doing something extra nice (pun, be damned!).
Name your stressors
In most stressful situations, one coping technique that often helps me process what I am feeling is calling out directly what is causing me distress. Yes, seriously.
Take a moment to check in with yourself during (and ideally before) you’re heading into circumstances that may trigger your negative emotions and call those nasties directly out.
By naming them, you are acknowledging 1) what you are feeling and 2) what is causing it. From there, you are better able to take stock of how you will navigate them going forward, and hopefully help you develop some coping mechanisms or skills to help you push through it.
The hypothetical boogeyman hiding in your closet loses all power when you realize what you’re scared of (i.e., the dark, that weird coat rack, etc.). Try doing the same for your mental health.
Don’t be afraid to seek additional help
It’s never wrong to ask for more help, especially with the rollercoaster of emotions we all ride from November to January. And, remember, help can come in many different forms.
As we collectively stare down the end of the year, it’s important to be in touch with your loved ones — friends, family, chosen community, or co-workers. If you’re comfortable, be honest with them about how this time of year makes you feel and ask for the support you need.
If your circumstances are different, try reaching out to your preferred medical professional – therapist, doctor, online mental health app, etc. — for help. Or, if you are a concerned friend or family member, try reaching out preemptively to check in. Something as simple as a “how are you holding up?” or “do you have plans tonight?” can do wonders for folks.
These pro tips are just a start. With this as a guide, we hope you have a wonderful and stress-minimal holiday season … and that you take a lil extra time to care for yourself.