The holidays may be a joyous time, but often can also be stressful, particularly for people affected by mental illness.
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Ways To Maintain Mental Health During Pandemic Holiday Season
A NAMI study found that 64% of individuals with mental illness said that the holidays worsen their symptoms. “For many people the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year,” Ken Duckworth, MD, the medical director of NAMI (in an interview prior to the pandemic) tells Namica.org. Anxiety or depression are common over the Christmas season for people and families who are dealing with mental health issues. It’s important to remember that stress may increase symptoms of mental illness. Symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder might be aggravated by it, as well as other mental health conditions. Maintaining mental health has become more difficult because of the COVID-19 situation.
Here are some tips for coping with the stress of the Christmas season and keeping your mental health in check:
Source - American Medical Association
Take Precautions To Keep Yourself Safe
As COVID-19 continues to pose a serious threat to communities, the the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have issued directives for Christmas parties. Spending time with families who live in the same home or gathering online is the safest method to meet. Follow these instructions if you want to socialize with others:
- Keep the number of persons and homes to a minimum. This covers everyone attending, including hosts and visitors. The fewer people there are, the safer it is.
- Gather outside rather than in enclosed spaces.
- If you’re unwell, skip the social events.
- If you are a member of a high-risk group, avoid attending events.
- Exercise physical distance and good hand hygiene.
- When eating or drinking, remove your face mask and store it in a safe place. Place it back on immediately after.
- Keep interactions to a maximum of two hours.
- Hands and surfaces should be washed on a regular basis.
Accommodate Your Individual Requirements
Self-love is the best medicine! Prioritize the well-being of your mental and physical health above anything else. Make preparations for stressful situations by learning what your triggers are. Is it difficult for you to buy Christmas gifts? Who or what is causing you to be agitated both physically and mentally? You may take actions to prevent or manage stress after you’ve acknowledged this.
Make A List Of Things And People To Thank For
As the year draws to a close, take a moment to reflect on your blessings and appreciate those who have helped you. Happiness is boosted by gratitude. We’ve all had a tough year in 2021. Is there anything or someone whom you are appreciative of?
Manage Your Time And Don’t Overdo It
Spending time wisely begins with prioritising. Making a daily plan helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed by work and deadlines. It’s normal to decline arrangements that don’t suit your schedule or your mood.
Maintain A Sense Of Reality
Even before the pandemic, the pleasant lifestyles shown in those Christmas advertising are not realistic. We all face difficulties at some point in our lives, and it is unrealistic to assume otherwise. At times, finding the ideal present or having a peaceful time with family is just not feasible. (Yes, even Zoom family reunions can be nerve-wracking!)
Family relationships may be quite complicated. Recognise them and understand that you have no control over anything but your function. If necessary, seek ways to mitigate your exposure.
Relax Your Body And Mind
Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation may help you feel calmer. A short retreat may have long-term effects, even if you don’t realise it right away.
Do Some Exercise Everyday
Go and walk, cycle, or take dancing classes at least once a week. Make sure anything you do is enjoyable. Your body naturally creates stress-relieving chemicals when you exercise regularly.
Prioritise Your Own Well-Being By Having Personal Time
Make time for things that bring you joy. As an example, you could go out to the movies, read a book, have a massage, or listen to music that makes you happy. It’s OK to make time for yourself when you need it most.
Consume A Healthy Diet
During the holidays, our eating patterns are put to the test because of all the parties, meals, and cookie tables. Maintaining a nutritious diet is important at this time. The fundamental for a healthy lifestyle is to eat whole grains, veggies, and fresh fruit. Eating a balanced diet might also assist in reducing mood swings.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep deprivation may intensify various mental health problems, such as mania in bipolar illness.
Abstain From Booze And Drugs
They don’t help alleviate tension; on the contrary, they might make it worse. When it comes to drug misuse, train yourself and get treatment.
Be In Nature
Time spent outside has been shown to lower stress, according to research. During a holiday get-together, you may feel the need to get away from everyone. Take a stroll around a nearby park.
Become A Volunteer
Volunteering may be a terrific way to feel better about yourself. Also, by assisting others less fortunate than yourself, you’ll find yourself feeling less alone and engaged in your community. Find out whether your town has a proper guideline to volunteer.
Reach Out To People
One of the most effective ways to maintain mental health during pandemic holiday season is to be with friends, family members, a counsellor or an online support group. Venting out and talking about your feelings may help.
Seek Professional Help
A mental health expert may be able to help you better manage your stress if you let them know you’re experiencing overwhelming feelings. Identifying particular triggers and developing a plan of action to address them may be done with the assistance of therapists. Maintain your therapy if you’re currently doing so.