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It’s finally December. That means it is time to spend quality time with your family and friends over a turkey dinner, decorate the tree, and watch that one Christmas movie everyone will discuss in years to come. However, if you’re struggling with mental health this holiday season, here are some strategies to cope with the emotions of the day.
Understand that it is completely normal to feel less than cheerful this time of year
It is common for people to be anxious or uneasy during the holidays. The parties, family gatherings, and present-giving may make you feel like there are a million things you need to do, but even more, things are left undone. In a world where we seem to want everything now and instantly, it can be hard to grasp the concept of waiting around for what we want.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself and others
We are all people with our baggage connected but separate. We’re not supposed to be able to fix everything in the world, so if you’re feeling particularly stressed about this holiday season, doing too much for someone and placing too many expectations on them can only lead to resentment and guilt. Plus, it’s not healthy for the other person or yourself.
Try to be patient and kind to those around you
This does not mean tolerating abusive behavior, but rather that you should have compassion for someone having a bad day. This also applies to being patient with yourself. The holidays can be a very trying time for people, and sometimes patience is the best medicine.
Try to maintain a sense of humor
The holidays can be hard, but laughing even when it seems hard can help relieve some of the stress. Being in touch with your emotions and crying when you are sad or miserable is completely okay. Still and all, having some distractions like a movie or a book you’re into helps take your mind off things.
Focus on what you have
It is easy to focus on the things that are missing in our lives, and often these are the things we don’t have. “I wish I had a partner” or “the holidays would be better if I had my family here” are common thoughts that lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness during the holidays. Nonetheless, if we can find some joy in the things we have, it can help us see that even when things are hard, there is still goodness in this world.
Let go of grudges
You can’t change people, so you might as well let go of what you can. You might need to let go of some people who aren’t contributing to better mental wellness, but those who care about you will always be there. If they don’t, they’re not worth having around anyway.
Be mindful of your thoughts
The holiday season is when you’re supposed to enjoy yourself and spend time with family and friends. But if you’re feeling down, you might need to avoid the people who make your depression worse. Think about how your thoughts will affect the people around you, and try to avoid those negative people.
Ask for help
Sometimes asking for help can make a big difference. It’s easy to feel like you’re all alone when people don’t listen to what you have to say or they don’t understand your situation. But just as your support system is important during the holidays, so is talking to someone who knows what you’re going through and can advise you on how to cope with mental illnesses.
Avoid going overboard with alcohol or drugs
Studies have shown that people who are intoxicated are less able to think clearly and make good decisions. They may also act aggressively and inappropriately or even sexually. These effects can be compounded as a result of alcohol, especially when combined with other substances such as marijuana or cocaine.