Let’s Chat Mental Health – Coping with the Holidays

Whether you’re dealing with going home for the holidays, memories of lost loved ones, or depressive symptoms due to the season, this time of year can be rough for some of us. Last year on Christmas I posted the following.

For the past few years I’ve been in the psychiatric hospital around October, November or December. This year I was home for each of these months. I am grateful to have been home for every holiday this season. Happy Holidays.

Here I am again, home. While I’m grateful that I’m managing my mental health, this time of the year still isn’t easy. My mother pointed out the frequent mood swings I experience. Having bipolar disorder, any little shift or change could potentially be triggering. Along with this, I have thoughts of my grandmother who passed away a few years ago. For as long as I’ve been living, our family tradition was going to her house every year for Christmas. Although it’s rarely spoken of in my family, it hasn’t been easy. Don’t misunderstand, I love the holiday. I love the whole idea of putting up the tree, decorating, Christmas movies, and giving. Even though I’m struggling, I realize I still find joy in this time of the year.

If you’re struggling to cope with the holidays, I’ve listed a few tips that might help.

  •  Practice mindfulness. Acknowledge and sit with your feelings. Give yourself time to deal with any  thoughts or feelings that arise during this time of the year. Write them down if you’re able to.
  • Create boundaries and feel free to say no. Don’t think just because it’s a holiday, you’re obligated to go certain places or be around certain people. If there’s something you’re not willing to do, say no.
  • Get support. Talk with someone about what you’re going through. Also know this is not something you have to go through alone.
  • Take care of yourself. Self-care, self-care, self-care! Sometimes depression sweeps in and we neglect ourselves. Remember to do tasks such as washing up and brushing your teeth. If you’re spending time alone, find something you love doing. 
  • Mourn the loss of a loved one. If you’re struggling with loss, it’s ok to grieve. Acknowledge how things feel without this person and do something in memory of your loved one. Grieving looks different for everyone.  
  • Remember to breathe. Most times we forget how important taking a few breaths is. Breathing can help to release tension in our body.
  • Create a coping skills or self-care box. Fill your box with items that will help you during the holiday.
  • Practice gratitude.  During tough moments, we tend to forget to be grateful. Take 5-10 minutes before starting your day to practice gratitude by focusing on what you have and what you’re grateful for.
  • Use music. Music is not only a way to connect with your feelings it’s also a great distraction.

Regardless of whether you’re getting together with family or spending time by yourself, the most important takeaway is to take care of yourself.

I hope you all have a peaceful holiday!

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