The Holiday Season’s Challenging Effects on Mental Health

For a variety of reasons, the holidays can be challenging to our mental health. According to a survey, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that approximately 24% of people with a diagnosed mental illness find that the holidays make their condition “a lot” worse and 40% “somewhat” worse.  For even those of us without a diagnosed mental illness, the “holiday blues” are a well-known phenomenon.

Acknowledging the Challenges the Holidays Bring

It’s helpful to be aware that many others are experiencing challenging emotions at this time.  It is completely normal, and you are not alone.  Accept that you have needs that require special attention during the holidays.

Here are some steps you can take to alleviate symptoms of depression or anxiety you experience during the holidays:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. Many people find this season to be challenging and it’s normal to experience sadness or anxiety.
  • Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out the help of a friend or a mental health counseling service.
  • Volunteer to help others. Doing something to help others is a good way to lift your spirits.
  • Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, connecting with friends and family.  Consider whether you can shop online for any of your items. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling and stress.
  • Learn to say “no.” Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Beware of bingeing on junk food and substances like drugs or alcohol. Maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
  • Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Find an activity you enjoy and treat yourself to a break.  Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Holiday Common Sense During COVID-19

This year, we should take a moment to recognize the unique situation we are in as a result of COVID-19. Maintaining mental health starts with protecting physical health.  Therefore, here are some guidelines that will help protect you and your family from the coronavirus:

  • Limit the number of people and households.
  • Gather outdoors if possible.
  • Don’t attend gatherings if you feel sick.
  • Don’t attend gatherings if you are in a high-risk group.
  • Practice physical distancing and hand hygiene at gatherings.
  • Wear a face covering and keep your mask in a safe place when eating or drinking.

Seek Professional Help if You Need It

There are many great resources  available if you find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious. If your challenging feelings last for a while, call a mental health professional to discuss. If you don’t know where to start, try calling the numbers listed on this resource.  There is help available and you don’t even have to leave your house to access it. For many, the mere act of pursuing mental health support immediate alleviates their mood. Taking a step in the right direction can be a powerful source of relief.

Great Northern Helps Injured Workers Recover

Great Northern Therapy Associates is your partner who can provide counseling services to injured workers.  We have therapists throughout many states who can meet in person and via remote telehealth sessions to work with injured workers and develop an individualized plan to help them adjust and successfully return to work.

We have partnered with and provided mental health support to workers at some of the largest companies in the world. But, at our core, we are still “people taking care of people,” one person at a time.  Contact us today by filling out a form (below), submitting a referral, or calling us at the number below.