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Protecting Your Mental Health During the Holidays

As we enter the final month of the year, many of us are looking forward to celebrations, festivities, and spending time with those closest to us.

Whether you’re celebrating a religious, seasonal, or cultural holiday or perhaps no particular holiday at all – taking care of one’s mental health is paramount.

The holiday season can be joyous. But for others this time of year can bring on feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and trigger past trauma. This is often referred to as the “holiday blues” or holiday depression. Research shows that the holidays present a uniquely stressful time because of the pressure to be in a “jolly mood” and create a perfect holiday experience for family. Here are some tips to protect your mental health:

Prepare yourself: Rather than putting off thinking about possible stressful situations, spend time thinking and reflecting on it. That will put you in a better frame of mind and make you feel more capable when and if the situation arises.

Set or reaffirm boundaries: The holiday season can pull us in different directions due to social, work, and family obligations. Now is the time to figure out what you will and will not take part in. If you know that participating in a particular family event is going to create conflict and leave you feeling stressed and uncomfortable, then don’t attend. Find another way to engage with your family that allows you to stay true to your personal values and beliefs. Reach out: Sadness often makes people want to keep to themselves. Social isolation is a major risk factor for depression. If you’re feeling lonely or depressed reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or seek professional help. Focus on what makes you happy: Indulge in those things that give you meaning and bring happiness to your life. If you enjoy baking, now is the time to test out new recipes and savor the moments spent in the kitchen. If running outdoors is your thing, think about finding a new path to run, joining a running club, or even setting a goal of running a marathon. Making time for yourself is an investment with long-term benefits. Set realistic expectations: Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan. Don’t get stuck on achieving the picture-perfect holiday. Sometimes the turkey is dry, and our children make different plans. Instead, be flexible and stay positive. Focus on what you can control and stay in the present so you can enjoy the experience you’re having. From everyone at Turning Point Mental Health Center, have a safe and joyous holiday season and new year. We look forward to helping you in 2022!

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