Written by Tracey Ruehlicke, Team Lead for Here 24/7
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holidays can bring great joy, but for many they can be a difficult time. Increased social and family obligations, financial strain, and coping with loss and loneliness can be just a few things that people are dealing with over the holidays. For people who live with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression the stress of the holidays can be very overwhelming.
Here are some strategies to help you cope this holiday season:
- Create boundaries – maybe limit the time you spend in difficult situations ie: offer a small window of time for the visit
- Create space for yourself – make time and keep time in your schedule for breaks from it all
- Practice self care – if triggered in the moment try using your 5 senses to get grounded in the present – what can you see, smell, hear, taste, feel? Helps to take focus away from the stressful feelings/situation. Use breathing exercises to increase the amount of oxygen you are receiving. You can try breathing in slowly for a count of 3-5, hold for count of 3-5 then exhale slowly for a count of 3-5. This can be repeated several times until you feel the stress lessening. It can be extra helpful if you practice it when you are not experiencing stress so that you know how/what to do and how it helps ahead of the crisis.
Here are some self care ideas:
Exercise is always beneficial but if that is not your thing or you have physical limitations you can exercise other ways. For some yoga, walking, jogging, swimming; anything physical is helpful. For others sitting quietly listening to music, visiting with a friend in person or by phone, working on a hobby, enjoying a scented candle or a bubble bath or maybe allowing yourself to take a nap is the best plan. Volunteering is a way to help others while reaping the benefit of self-satisfaction. A win win.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can also impact wellness. It is getting dark very early and our bodies don’t always get the sunshine we need to naturally keep us well. If the gloom becomes too much talk to your health practitioner who might recommend a SAD lamp which provides artificial sunshine to your body or you could try sitting by a window in the sunshine if you can’t go outside for a walk.
End of Year Resolution Stress:
There is often a lot of pressure to create a resolution for the New Year. For many people this further worsens their feelings of sadness/isolation/failure. Instead try revisiting all the things that you are proud of from the last year – trying new things, helping others, asking for and accepting help, making it through each day even though you had thoughts of giving up.
Most importantly – Stress is a normal part of everyone’s life. We cannot eliminate it, it is part of being human. What we need to do is find ways to manage it so it doesn’t take control. If it gets to a point where you are feeling trapped by it or if you find yourself in crisis please call Here 24/7 at 1-844-437-3247.