Christmas can be a time of joy and celebration for many people, but for others, it can be a difficult and stressful time of year. The holiday season can bring up feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety for those struggling with mental health issues. It's important to recognize that these struggles are common and to seek help if you are experiencing them.
Why Are The Holidays Hard On Mental Health?
"According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people surveyed said their stress increased during the holiday season, which can lead to physical illness, depression, anxiety, and substance misuse...To make matters worse, the National Alliance on Mental Illness noted that 64% of individuals living with a mental illness felt that their conditions worsened around the holidays."
There are a number of reasons why the holidays can be hard on mental health. One reason is that the holidays can be a very busy and stressful time. There may be pressure to meet social obligations, attend parties and events, and buy gifts. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. Additionally, the holidays can be a time of heightened expectations, which can be difficult to meet. For example, people may feel pressure to create the perfect holiday experience or to be happy and joyful all the time. This can lead to feelings of disappointment or failure if these expectations are not met.
Another reason why the holidays can be hard on mental health is that they can be a difficult time for those who are experiencing grief or loss. The holidays can be a reminder of loved ones who are no longer with us, which can be very painful. The holidays can also be a time of isolation and loneliness, particularly for those who are living far away from family and friends or who do not have a strong support network.
Finally, the holidays can be a time of financial stress, as people may feel pressure to spend money on gifts and travel. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and worry. Overall, the holiday season can be a very challenging time for many people, and it is important to take care of your mental health during this time.
What Is Chronic Stress?
Chronic stress is a type of stress that persists over an extended period of time and is not easily relieved. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including work-related stress, financial stress, family responsibilities, and relationship problems. Chronic stress can have a negative impact on physical and mental health, including causing or worsening a range of health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and depression. It can also affect the immune system, making people more vulnerable to infections and illnesses. Chronic stress can be managed through a variety of techniques, including stress-reduction techniques like exercise, meditation, and getting enough sleep, as well as seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal and natural part of life. It is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Some anxiety is normal and can even be helpful, as it can motivate us to take action and prepare for challenges.
However, when anxiety becomes excessive or interferes with daily life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions that are characterized by persistent and excessive worry or fear about a variety of topics, such as health, relationships, work, or finances.
Symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Feelings of worry or fear that are out of proportion to the situation
- Difficulty controlling or reducing worry
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty sleeping
If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety that are interfering with your daily life, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a common but serious mood disorder that can cause persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities. Depression can affect how you feel, think, and behave, and can lead to a variety of physical and emotional symptoms.
Symptoms of clinical depression may include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite and weight (either weight loss or gain)
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Decreased energy and fatigue
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
It is important to note that these symptoms can vary in severity and duration, and that everyone experiences depression differently. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they are affecting your daily life, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Depression is a treatable condition, and with proper treatment, it is possible to manage and overcome the symptoms of depression.
Signs And Symptoms To Watch For In Loved Ones
If you are concerned about a loved one's mental health during the holiday season, there are a few signs and symptoms to look out for. These may include:
- A change in appetite or sleeping patterns
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Withdrawal from social activities or gatherings
- Increased irritability or anger
- Loss of interest in activities that used to bring joy
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
If you notice any of these signs in a friend or family member, it's important to approach the situation with care and concern. Encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional, and offer your support and understanding.
Signs And Symptoms That Your Child Is Struggling
It is common for children to experience stress or sadness at different points in their lives. However, if these feelings persist or interfere with a child's ability to function, it may be a sign of a more serious issue, such as chronic stress, anxiety or depression.
Here are some signs that a child may be struggling with stress or depression:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
- Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
- Decreased energy and fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Decreased interest in activities that were once enjoyed
- Physical complaints, such as stomachaches or headaches
- Changes in behavior, such as becoming more irritable or aggressive
- Difficulty managing emotions, such as becoming easily frustrated or angry
- Difficulty with schoolwork or a decline in grades
- Thoughts of death or suicide
It is important to note that children may not always be able to express their feelings or understand what is happening to them. If you are concerned that your child may be struggling with stress, anxiety or depression, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.
If you're interested in resources to support your child's social, emotional, and mental well-being, check out the Parental Resources Kit that the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has put together here. Technically this was created as part of a Covid response, but the tools are still relevant and useful.
What People Can Do to Help Take Care of Themselves
If you are struggling with mental health issues during the holiday season, it's important to prioritize self-care. Here are a few things you can do to help take care of yourself:
- Reach out for support: Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, or seek support from a mental health professional.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Taking time to relax and de-stress can be beneficial for your mental health. Try activities like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to help reduce anxiety and improve your mood.
- Set boundaries: It's okay to say no to events or activities that may be overwhelming or cause stress. It's important to prioritize your own well-being and take breaks when needed.
- Seek out social support: Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family can be a great way to improve your mental health. Consider reaching out to loved ones for social support or joining a support group.
- Take care of your physical health: Exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet can all have a positive impact on your mental health. Make sure to prioritize these self-care habits during the holiday season, as well as any time you're experiencing extra stress or pressure.
What To Do If Your Depression Is Causing Suicidal Ideations
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, it's important to seek help immediately. These thoughts can be overwhelming and it's important to get support as soon as possible. Here are a few steps you can take:
- Call a crisis hotline: There are many resources available for those experiencing suicidal thoughts. The U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK(8255), is a 24-hour hotline that can provide support and help you find resources in your area. You can also chat with them online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org or text "988" 24 hours a day in English or Spanish.
- Talk to a trusted friend or family member: It can be helpful to talk to someone you trust about your feelings. They may be able to provide support and help you find resources for getting help.
- Seek help from a mental health professional: A mental health professional can provide support and treatment for suicidal thoughts. They can work with you to develop a plan to keep you safe and help you manage your feelings.
The holiday season can be a difficult time for those struggling with mental health issues. It's important to recognize these struggles and seek help if you are experiencing them. By prioritizing self-care and seeking support from trusted friends, family, and mental health professionals, you can improve your mental health and get through the holiday season. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, it's important to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness and that it is possible to find relief from suicidal ideations with the right support. Don't be afraid to reach out for help if you need it, your life matters even when you're feeling your worst and there are people that want to help you.
Related Questions That Are Frequently Asked:
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health includes an individual's overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, and it plays a vital role in overall health and well-being.
Good mental health is characterized by a sense of well-being, positive self-esteem, and the ability to cope with life's challenges. It enables individuals to think, reason, and make decisions effectively, and to form and maintain healthy relationships.
Mental health can be impacted by a variety of factors, including genetics, life experiences, and environmental factors. Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, are common and can affect people of all ages.
It is important to prioritize mental health and to seek help if needed. With proper treatment, it is possible to manage and overcome mental health problems and to maintain good mental health. There are many resources available for individuals seeking support for mental health issues, including therapy, support groups, and medications.
Is It Normal To Feel Lonely On Holidays?
It is completely normal to feel lonely at times, particularly during the holidays when many people are focused on spending time with loved ones. Loneliness is a common human experience, and it can be triggered by a variety of factors, including being alone, feeling disconnected from others, or experiencing loss or change.
There are many different ways to cope with loneliness during the holidays. Some people find it helpful to reach out to loved ones, whether through phone calls, text messages, or video chats. Others may find comfort in participating in activities that bring them joy, such as cooking, reading, or exercising. Volunteering or helping others can also be a great way to feel more connected and purposeful.
It is important to remember that loneliness is a temporary feeling, and that it is normal to experience it from time to time. If you are feeling lonely or isolated, it can be helpful to remind yourself that you are not alone in this experience and to reach out for support if you need it. There are also many resources available that can provide additional support and guidance for coping with loneliness, such as therapy or support groups.
How Do I Fix My Holiday Blues?
If you are experiencing holiday blues, there are several things you can try to help improve your mood and cope with any negative feelings:
- Practice self-care: It is important to take care of your physical and emotional well-being during the holidays. This may involve getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
- Set realistic expectations: It is common to have high expectations for the holidays, but it is important to remember that the holiday season does not have to be perfect. Try to let go of any unrealistic expectations you may have and focus on the things that are most important to you.
- Seek support: If you are feeling overwhelmed or isolated, it can be helpful to reach out to friends and family for support. Alternatively, you can consider seeking support from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor.
- Find ways to connect with others: The holidays can be a time of loneliness for some people. If you are feeling isolated, try to find ways to connect with others, such as volunteering, joining a club or group, or attending holiday events.
- Practice gratitude: Focusing on the things that you are thankful for can help to improve your mood and perspective. Try keeping a gratitude journal, where you write down a few things you are grateful for each day.
- Seek out activities that bring you joy: Engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation can help to lift your mood and reduce stress. This might include hobbies, exercise, or spending time in nature.
Remember that it is normal to experience ups and downs during the holidays, and it is okay to take breaks and prioritize your own well-being. If you are struggling to manage your holiday blues and they are affecting your daily life, it may be helpful to seek additional support from a mental health professional.
What Does Self-Care Mean?
Self-care refers to the actions that individuals take to care for their physical, mental, and emotional health. It is an important aspect of maintaining overall well-being and can help people to manage stress, prevent burnout, and improve their quality of life.
There are many different ways to practice self-care, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some examples of self-care activities include:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly (even just a half hour a day can make a huge impact)
- Taking breaks from work and technology
- Practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing
- Engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy
- Seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional
- Setting boundaries and saying no to commitments that do not align with your values and needs
Self-care is not just about pampering oneself, but rather about making choices that support overall well-being and prevent burnout. It is important to make self-care a priority and to find activities that work for you.
What Are Examples Of Self-care?
- Getting enough sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to help your body and mind rest and recharge.
- Eating a healthy diet: Eat a variety of nutritious foods and drink plenty of water to support physical and mental health.
- Exercising regularly: Engage in physical activity that you enjoy, such as walking, running, yoga, or dancing. Exercise can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and boost energy levels. Yes- dancing around your kitchen to that song you love from 20 years ago counts!
- Taking breaks from work and technology: Make time to disconnect from screens and work and engage in activities that allow you to relax and recharge. Putting down the phone can be hard, but it can also be very rewarding both mentally and emotionally.
- Practicing relaxation techniques: Find ways to relax and de-stress like meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy: Pursue activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as painting, gardening, or playing a musical instrument.
- Seeking support: Connect with friends, family, or a mental health professional for support and to share your feelings and experiences. Remember that you don't need to be ashamed of your thoughts and feelings, professionals will not be judging you, and you should be proud that you asked for help.
- Setting boundaries and saying no to commitments that do not align with your values and needs: It is important to prioritize your own well-being and to set limits on your time and energy.
What Is Social Well Being?
Social well-being refers to the extent to which an individual feels connected and supported by their social network and community. It is an important aspect of overall well-being and can have a significant impact on an individual's emotional, mental and physical health.
Having strong social connections and a sense of belonging can provide a sense of purpose, improve self-esteem, and reduce the risk of developing mental health problems. It can also provide a sense of support and help individuals to cope with stress, illness, and other challenges.
There are several factors that contribute to social well-being, including:
- Strong social connections: Having close relationships with family members and friends, and feeling connected to a larger community or social network, can contribute to social well-being.
- Sense of belonging: Feeling like you belong to a group or community and that you are accepted and valued by others can enhance social well-being.
- Social support: Having people in your life who you can rely on for emotional, practical, and financial support can contribute to social well-being.
- Participation in social activities: Engaging in activities that allow you to connect with others and contribute to your community, such as volunteering or participating in social or cultural events, can enhance social well-being.
What Percentage Of The World Suffers From Mental Illness As Of 2022?
According to Mental Health America, 19.86% of adults are experiencing mental illnesses.
What Are The Associated Health Risks Of Depression?
"WHO [World Health Organization] has identified strong links between depression and other noncommunicable disorders and diseases. Depression increases the risk of substance use disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease; the opposite is also true, meaning that people with these other conditions have a higher risk of depression."