Maintaining Mental Health During the Holiday Season
Contrary to popular belief, the holiday season is not always “the most wonderful time of the year” for many people. Although the holiday season can be fun and filled with joy, it can also be a challenging time. Stress, loneliness, and high expectations can contribute to the “holiday blues.” According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people reported an increased level of stress around the holiday season. Moreover, in a study from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people with a mental health disorder reported that their symptoms worsened during the holiday season. In this article, we aim to highlight reasons why the holiday season may contribute to increased levels of stress and worse mental health outcomes. We also aim to highlight strategies for maintaining your mental health this holiday season.
Why is the Holiday Season Stressful?
There are many reasons why the holiday season can be stressful and impact one’s mood. Here are common stressors people may experience:
- Increased social gatherings and obligations
- Feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Celebrating holidays without a loved one, which can contribute to feelings of grief and loss
- Engaging with family members whom you have complex relationships with
How to Maintain Your Mental Health
In order to enjoy the holiday season, it is important to maintain your mental health. Strategies for maintaining mental health include:
- Prioritize the most important activities or gatherings
- Social gatherings can be draining and overwhelming for some people. It is okay to say “no” to social gatherings or to go for short periods of time
- Set aside time for self-care
- Take time for yourself to rest and engage in activities that you enjoy
- Maintain a regular schedule for sleeping, eating, and exercising
- Taking care of physical health is important for maintaining mental health
- Engage in mindfulness exercises
- Mindfulness exercises can be helpful for reducing stress and also build more awareness of the present moment
- Guided mindfulness exercises can be easily accessed online and various smartphone apps (e.g., Headspace, Calm)
- Seek support
- Talking with friends, family, or a therapist can help you process concerns and seek support throughout the holiday season
Although the holiday season is thought to be filled with excitement and joy, it is also a stressful time for many people. During the holiday season, there are increased expectations and obligations. People may also experience feelings of loneliness and grief. Given that the holiday season can be stressful, it is important to maintain your mental health in a number of ways, including setting aside time for self-care and seeking support.
If you are struggling to navigate the stress of the holiday season and would like additional support, providers at Upside Therapy are here to help. If you are interested in services, please call 972-519-1692 or email email@example.com.
Algorani, E. B., & Gupta, V. (2023, April 24). Coping mechanisms. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559031/
American Psychological Association. (2006, December 12). Holiday stress. APA. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2014, November 19). Mental health and the holiday blues. NAMI. https://www.nami.org/Press-Media/Press-Releases/2014/Mental-health-and-the-holiday-blues
Wu, J., Ma, Y., Zuo, Y., Zheng, K., Zhou, Z., Qin, Y., & Ren, Z. (2022). Effects of mindfulness exercise guided by a smartphone app on negative emotions and stress in non-clinical populations: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Public Health, 9.