Holiday Stress and Mental Health
While there is joy and wonder around the holidays, there can also be stress. Keeping up with cheer, maintaining our relationships and celebrating are examples of holiday stress. There are many factors that contribute to or worsen pre-existing mental health challenges. These issues can also be exacerbated with health issues that might be triggered by overeating, alcohol misuse and lack of exercise. There are many ways that we can ease the stress and burden associated with the holidays and maintain the joy and take a break from the schedules from the rest of the year.
Its important to be self-aware during the holidays and prevent doing too much. Take stock of how much you think you really can do and manage your expectations during the holidays (e.g. by visiting fewer friends, setting a schedule and giving yourself breaks when necessary). Too many obligations can become stressful and leave people feeling drained instead of refreshed.
The holidays are full of over-indulgences, an abundance of parties and gift-giving. This can lead to overspending, overeating and drinking too much. These can have lasting effects into the New Year, such as debt or weight gain. It is important to practice mindful eating and spending during this time in order to avoid these consequences. The holidays are a great time to go out and try something new or volunteer with others. This can help those who find themselves burdened by other stresses or the holiday blues. There are plenty of ways to help or give to others including volunteering at soup kitchens or serving dinner to the homeless.
Symptoms of High Stress
Getting help when you feel excessively sad or lonely is important. In recent years more awareness has been drawn to seasonal affective disorder. This is where people experience episodes of major depressive disorder during the winter or summer months. People with winter-associated seasonal affective disorder often experience hypersomnia (sleeping too much), craving for carbohydrates, low energy or overeating. Management of this disorder includes light therapy and medication, which can improve quality of life and bring cheer back into their holidays.
There are many different ways to combat mental health disorders and each patient is different. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder, like depression or anxiety, please contact the professional team at Lifeline Connections. You can visit Lifelineconnections.org, our Services & Locations information or call (360) 397-8246 for more information.