BY DIRECTOR OF BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, Sara Hergic-Sehovic, LPC, MBA
The holiday season can pose challenges for many individuals, bringing about heightened stress, anxiety, isolation, and loneliness due to a lack of social connections. Triggers and past traumas may resurface during this time. Consider the following strategies to prioritize your mental well-being amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays:
Strategies for Mental Health Support:
- Acknowledge Your Feelings: Recognize that it's okay to feel unhappy during the holidays. Identifying your emotions is the first step toward addressing and nurturing them.
- Create a Coping Plan: Develop a plan for moments of stress, sadness, or loneliness. This could involve reaching out to a friend or family member, taking a walk, engaging in joyful activities, or watching a favorite movie.
- Practice Self-Care: Schedule time for activities that rejuvenate your mind and body, such as reading, exercising, spending time in nature, and practicing stress management techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness. Prioritize necessities like a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise.
- Build Community Connections: If you can't be with loved ones, seek support from clubs, support groups, community centers, local meetups, or faith communities. Regular phone calls with family and friends can also alleviate feelings of loneliness.
- Support Others: Reach out to individuals who may be experiencing grief or loss during the holidays. Offering assistance not only brings joy to others but can enhance your own happiness and well-being.
- Recognize Seasonal Mood Changes: Be aware of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms, which may intensify during the holiday season. If experiencing symptoms, consult a healthcare provider for effective treatments like light therapy, antidepressants, or talk therapy.
- Avoid Alcohol and Drugs: For those in recovery, navigate social events and loneliness with a plan to minimize the risk of substance use. Friends and family should check in on individuals struggling with substance use during the holidays.
- Know When to Seek Help: If mental health struggles become overwhelming, seek help. Confidential resources are available to connect individuals with effective treatment and support.
Free and Confidential Resources:
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- FindSupport.gov: Online guide for behavioral health support
- FindTreatment.gov: Confidential source for treatment facilities
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call, text, or chat at 988lifeline.org
- Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988, then press 1.