The Holidays and Your Mental Health

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Family gatherings and a jam-packed schedule of events can be stressful, to put it mildly. Add in the fact that this holiday season, many of us are being affected in some way by the exploding number of COVID-19 cases, and our usual holiday stress can start to feel like something too big to handle. Holiday events tend to bring their own challenges that cause people to feel even more stressed than usual. For some, this season can bring on feelings of isolation, intensify stress, and cause severe anxiety and depression. 

Many factors can contribute to feelings of holiday anxiety and depression. There is an increase in financial burdens due to travel, gift-giving, and hosting and attending social events. Then there’s the packed schedule that pulls you in every different direction, leaving you feeling like you can’t keep up with your regular responsibilities. Self-care is usually put on hold as you feel pressure to attend every event, and spend countless hours searching for perfect gifts. People who do not have family or loved ones can struggle with loneliness, causing an increase in strong depressive emotions.  

The holidays can be joyous for everyone. With the ability to identify your priorities and your weaknesses, and the determination to establish safeguards for yourself, you can manage your mental health this holiday season.

Stay In Therapy

One of the first things people tend to do is overbook their schedule with events and holiday gatherings. Out of the feelings of obligation to be elsewhere, we may be inclined to cancel our therapy sessions. Keep these appointments. They are a more important outlet for you than ever at this time of year.


Even during the holidays, it’s okay to take care of yourself. When Christmas comes along, we tend to focus our attention on others. This is a beautiful thing, but you shouldn’t leave yourself out! You need to be taken care of, too. Your mind, body, and soul rely on you to take the precautions necessary to stay healthy. Indulge in mindfulness activities that keep you balanced, as these can be valuable mental wellness tools.

Limit Your Time Around Family Members

Not only is it okay to set boundaries for yourself during the holidays, but it might also even be the best thing you can do. Along with the increase in time spent with family members, many people feel a spike in their stress and anxiety levels. In some cases, family can be a trigger for those struggling with addiction or mental illness. If spending time with your family is going to put you in a negative space, it is okay to limit it or skip it altogether. The only obligation you have is to yourself, and to keeping your mental health balanced. 

Be Especially Cognizant of Alcohol

When we need to unwind, we may seek substances like alcohol to help relieve tension. The Anxiety and Depression of America Association of America recommends avoiding drugs and alcohol to relieve discomfort entirely, as substance use can ultimately worsen your issues. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that there is a 20% overlap between people with mood disorders and substance use disorders. When you are seeking something to help you relax, lean towards mindfulness tactics or other healthy coping skills, like chatting with a close friend. 

Get Outside

Studies continue to show the positive effects that nature has on a person’s mental health. With the winter months and shorter days upon us, people tend to spend more time inside. Even if it is just for a short walk, make a point to find some time to be outside. Spending time in nature helps to relieve stress, provides better concentration, lowers levels of inflammation, and improves a person’s mental energy.  

Give Yourself Grace

Another reason people experience an elevation in stress, anxiety, and depression is due to self-reflection over the past year. You may be overwhelmed by negative feelings for not meeting certain expectations you’ve put on yourself. This is the time to give yourself grace. Focus on what you have accomplished this year, no matter how big or small. It is important to remember to set realistic goals for yourself and to adjust your expectations. This will help to avoid being put in this type of mental space. 

Maneuvering life with mental illness is always a challenge, and during the holidays it can feel even more difficult. Though the overwhelming feelings that you are experiencing can feel isolating, remember that you are not alone. Reach out to people in your support groups; visit with friends and family who spark joy in your life; meet for coffee with someone you love chatting with. As always, seek help from professional mental health services whenever you need assistance.

The holiday season is among us, bringing with it packed schedules, high expectations, and less time for ourselves. All of this contributes to an increase in stress, anxiety, and depression. There are a few checks and balances that you can focus your attention on to help you manage your mental health this holiday season. Overexerting yourself to attend every event and gathering is unnecessary and unhealthy. Attending holiday events out of obligation can put you in a negative space that you do not belong in. It is always okay to put yourself first. Your mental well-being is important, and without it, you won’t make it very far. Make sure to take time out for yourself, and keep healthy coping mechanisms such as therapy in place throughout the holiday season. If you are looking for help with managing your mental health this holiday season, reach out to Everlast Recovery Centers at 866-DETOX-25 We are here to help you.

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