Mental Health and Holidays

Holidays mean happiness and jolly good times, right? When you have a mental health struggles that isn’t always the case.

We are approaching the Holiday months. Who is excited? Who just had a mini panic in their head? Or maybe you are like me and you experienced both. This is a real struggle, mental health and holidays can be a challenge.

Holidays are filled with fun, family, traditions, and for many people stress and anxiety. While these next few months can be so fun, they can also be a trigger. I have been thinking about the holidays lately and wondering what I could do to help keep the triggers at bay during this holiday season.

Then I thought why not share my thinking for anyone who might need some help as well.  It can be very disheartening when you are about to do something you have looked forward to and depression hits or you have an anxiety attack. Totally a buzz kill! So below I have outlined 6 ways I plan to help me this holiday season.

Plan Ahead

I enjoy planning ahead for things. I am also game to be spur of the moment. But, my heart feels better when I have things planned out. So it makes sense that I would feel better to have some things planned out.

Some of the traditions we have as a family are:

  • go to a pumpkin patch
  • decorate pumpkins
  • trick or treating
  • Hallmark movies
  • family Thanksgiving dinner
  • go see Christmas lights
  • family Christmas parties
  • decorate sugar cookies
  • put up Christmas decorations with music on
  • drink as much hot chocolate as we can
  • different service projects

This list is long, and it’s not everything. So for each holiday I plan to sit down with my family and make a mini bucket list of things we would like to do this holiday season. You can either let each family member pick one or two to keep the list short.

After the bucket list is made then put them on the calendar. Boom, your plan is made. Well, some of the plan.

Another thing to plan for is food for different parties. When you know what you get to bring get planning on what you will make, what you need to buy, and get it purchased. It’s less stressful to have the food bought before the day of the party. Or even better do your grocery shopping online and pick it up the next day. It is seriously amazing!

If you need to make any gift purchases I suggest making a list. A few years ago I made an excel sheet with people we needed to buy gifts for, ideas, estimated cost or budget, and actual price. This has helped us to keep better track. Start this early, you don’t want to be running around last minute trying to get everything bought.

Learn to Say NO

I do not mean never say yes! I mean when you are asked to do something that you feel may put you over the top you need to say no. Say no nicely. But still say no.

You are not being rude or disrespectful in any way. You are making sure you have enough you to go around. This is very important. You cannot keep giving if you have nothing to give. You will not be able to enjoy the holidays as much if you are spent and just want to hide from everyone.

So do yourself a HUGE favor and know you limits. Say yes when you have time and energy. And please say no if you can’t, don’t have time, or are going to shut down.

Let Others Help

If you are hosting a party and someone asks what they can bring. By all means give them something to bring. Lighten your load. You do not need to be superman or superwoman. You do not need to prove yourself to anyone.

It can be hard to accept help from others. Let’s think about it this way… If someone is asking you if they can help in some way and you say no you are denying them the chance to serve. Or maybe they have felt left out by not being asked to help…

I do need to say that you have the right to say no if it makes you uncomfortable or you really don’t want help.

Self Care

I sure do love this one. I need to get better at self-care. I think it’s a safe bet that most of us need to get better at self-care. I am going to try to do at least one or two things for myself every day. Some ideas that I have are:

  • work out
  • read
  • nap
  • use gift cards to a spa that I have been waiting to use
  • go by myself somewhere, heck, anywhere
  • turning my phone off and just relaxing

Don’t Do Everything, Make a Choice

If you haven’t gathered by now from other posts, I love children’s books. I do not like to buy books unless they are children’s books. I buy my kiddos books for lots of holidays. I didn’t get a chance to get any Halloween books this year. And I probably won’t.

For a minute after I have a mini panic inside. You know what? My kids probably won’t know the difference. They probably won’t care. So far they haven’t mentioned it. Then I start to calm down and life goes on.

My point, you don’t have to do everything. Last year I made a fun Halloween dinner before we went trick or treating. This year Eddy works on Halloween and he will not be home. I have three choices: do it a different day, do it without Eddy, or simply don’t do it. I’m not sure what we will do but whatever it is, life will be fine!f

If you have three parties on the same day, maybe pick one or two to go to. Maybe in the past you have done 10 different activities and it was so stressful. This year pick just a few of your favorites. It is more important to be able to enjoy the activities you have planned then keep trying to get it all done. You can trade off each year.

Breathe and Keep Going

Sometimes even when you have done all you can do your depression or anxiety still happens. It will be okay. Give yourself a break, breathe, and when you are ready keep going. I know that I will still have moments or days that I am not doing well. When this happens I plan on taking a look at my plan to see what I can change to make my life easier. Then you better believe I will give myself the time I need to feel better. After that I will breathe and keep going.

I am more hopeful this holiday season that I can have less depressed days, less stress, and less anxiety. Mental health and holidays do not have to be a negative thing. Let’s do what we can to try to stay on top of things or saying no or accepting help to keep any mental health issues at bay.

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