Bridget Britton, Behavioral Health Program Specialist
Now that harvest season is finally wrapping up, many of us are looking ahead to the holiday season. The last several weeks of the year are full of parties, gift-giving, and festive meals. While many eagerly anticipate this time of year, some individuals feel more anxious or depressed during the holidays. A study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in 2021 found that 3 out of 5 people said their mental health worsened during the holiday season. Financial pressures, conflict with family members, loss of loved ones, and busy schedules were common reasons people felt stressed, anxious, or depressed.
If you notice your mental health worsening during the holidays, take hope! You can do many things to boost your mood or reduce stress. Consider these options:
• Practice self-care. What activities help you feel refreshed or relaxed? Taking a walk around your property, watching a favorite movie, or driving through a Christmas light display in your community are all simple activities that can bring happiness.
• Avoid negative coping strategies. It is common for people to enjoy alcoholic beverages, but excessive drinking to change your mood can harm your physical and mental health. Click here to learn more.
• Set healthy boundaries. It is okay to say “no” or “not right now.” If your schedule is too busy, consider limiting the number of invitations you accept. If family gatherings are a little contentious, plan to stay for only an hour or two.
• Follow your regular routine. Enjoy holiday treats AND remember your veggies and protein. Settle in for a fun movie night AND aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Proper rest and nutrition help your mental health tremendously!
• Acknowledge your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or family member and tell them how you feel. Sometimes, just saying words out loud can help remove a burden from our minds. Your loved ones may also be able to provide additional support.
Sometimes, our own efforts aren’t quite enough. Don’t hesitate to contact a trained professional if your mental health worsens or you experience a mental health crisis. Here are some important resources:
• 988 – call or text this number 24/7 to be connected to the Suicide and Crisis Prevention Lifeline. A trained counselor will listen to you, support you, and share resources in your area.
• 741741 – text the Crisis Lifeline 24/7 to connect with a trained counselor.
• 911 – if you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts or a medical emergency, call emergency services immediately.
• 1-800-720-9616 – The Ohio Careline is a 24/7 service that provides emotional support and connects callers to local resources.
The holidays can be a time of excitement and happiness and can also be challenging or difficult. You can take many steps personally, and many professionals can help. You are not alone. Take the steps you need to protect and improve your mental health today.