Christmas Day may be over, but for many families, holiday visits and activities will continue through New Year’s Day.
The holiday season can bring its own unique set of stress and triggers for some of us. Many people feel pressure to buy gifts that break their budget, or feel shame that their house and decorations are not as perfect as what we see from friends and family on Facebook and Instagram. Sometimes we feel we must spend the holiday with family not because we want to, but because we do not want to be alone. There are many other holiday stressors that can overwhelm us, and it’s especially important not to forget your own mental health in order to keep the stress level in check.
What can you do? Here are some tips:
Take a break from family and festivities: Even a short walk of just 5 minutes will help you create a little space for yourself to think and re-center.
Practice breathing and mindfulness: This does not mean that you need to do 45 minutes of yoga, just 10 deep belly breaths (breathing in and out from the belly, rather than the lungs) can relax your body and mind. Or take a few minutes alone to simply enjoy the stillness you create without the worry of the season.
If you miss having others around, you could visit a nursing home and ask to spend some time chatting with residents who don’t get many visitors. You could look for local groups or clubs that share your interests (in addition to doing an online search with your specific interest and city name, try Meetup.com or NextDoor.com).
Remember to eat healthy, get good sleep, get sunshine (or take a Vitamin D pill), and stay on any prescribed medication you are taking to treat mental illness. Conversely, do not turn to drugs or alcohol to cope, as these are crutches that may temporarily mask issues but do not allow you to resolve them.
Locally, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Richland County seeks to educate, advocate, listen, and lead. NAMI workers and volunteers combine their passion and heart for mental illness across the country to advocate for access to services, treatment, research and are steadfast in their commitment to raise awareness and build a community of hope for all of those in need. If you need help finding support, you can visit https://www.namirc.org/connections-support-group. Emergency assistance is available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).