Mental Health And Holidays: Successful Ways To Cope

mental health and holidays

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Mental health and holidays, just reading that can cause stress for some people. It was hard enough to write. The holiday time is often talked about as a happy and close time, but it can also make you feel anxious, alone, and sad.

I know firsthand how it is to spend Christmas time alone. It can be tremendously depressing. Depression during the holidays is often overlooked. For that matter, mental health is overlooked most all year round.

It’s important to recognize how you’re feeling and do things to take care of yourself and manage your mental health. I used to not be so good at that part. My mental health during the holiday blues went hand in hand with alcohol and withdrawing into “a cave.”

I want to talk about common emotional problems that happen during the holidays, like feeling isolated and stressed, and provide tips on how to get the most out of your holiday plans this time of the year.

I’ll also give ideas for managing your mental health, such as taking care of yourself and asking for help from a trusted family member when needed. I’ll also give tips on not feeling alone and being strong during this time.

The Importance of Acknowledging Mental Health Around the Holidays

Your mental health is very important. It is important any time of the year.

It’s easy to focus on physical health, like going to parties and eating healthy holiday food. But we also need to think about how this time of year affects our mental health.

The American Psychological Association says it’s important to understand that we might feel stressed or unhappy during winter. We must be kind to ourselves and others and ask for help if needed.

The holidays are a time of mixed emotions, with stress, anxiety, and sadness often making an appearance. The financial strain that comes with holiday expenses can add to these negative feelings, putting even more pressure on people.

Coping with grief and loss during this time can be particularly challenging, as the festive atmosphere may worsen feelings of sadness and longing for loved ones. Additionally, seasonal affective disorder, caused by decreased natural light during winter, can impact mood and energy levels.

It’s important to prioritize self-care and seek support when needed to navigate these emotional challenges successfully.

Recognizing the Signs of Holiday-Induced Stress and Depression

The fall/winter season may cause stress and depression, so paying attention to any changes in your mood or behavior is important. If you feel overwhelmed or always on edge, this could mean you are more stressed.

Changes in your sleep or hunger could show you’re emotionally upset. If you no longer enjoy activities you usually do, you may be depressed because of the holidays.

Watch out for headaches or stomachaches, which could mean you’re stressed. Recognizing these signs can help you take care of yourself during the holidays.

Why do some people feel isolated during the holidays?

Your mental health can cause feelings of loneliness. Society has its expectations, and the emphasis on family and togetherness highlights a sense of being alone. Additionally, grief, loss, and financial constraints may contribute to feelings of isolation during this time.

My mental health has suffered in the past. Years ago, I was not mentally in a good place after my father passed in early November. I did not know how to deal with that situation in a healthy manner.

I dealt with it by drinking during that time, which only increased my stress levels and worsened my mental health and substance abuse. The holidays can also trigger difficult emotions, thoughts, or behaviors—which can affect your mental health and use of substances (including alcohol and substance misuse).

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 38% of people felt their stress levels increased during the holidays, especially due to factors such as lack of time, financial pressure, gift-giving, and family gatherings in the United States.

This makes it critical to recognize the signs of holiday-induced stress and depression, such as shorter days and symptoms of depression, and seek confidential support from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist with a PhD, if needed.

Overcoming Feelings of Isolation

When you’re going through the winter months, it’s important to take care of your mental health and find ways to fight off feelings of being alone. Ask your friends and family for support because they can help you feel better.

Do things that make you happy and recharge, like going to sporting events or helping out in your community. If you need more help, think about joining a group that supports people like you or talking to a professional who can help you.

Remember to be kind to yourself and take care of yourself by making sure you get enough rest, relaxation, and sleep. You’re not alone, and there are people who can help you feel better during the holidays.

Practical Strategies for Managing Mental Health And Holidays

Be sure to take care of your mental health throughout the year!

To reduce stress, set realistic expectations and boundaries. The holidays can be a wonderful time of the year but can also make you sad and stressed. Try stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness to manage negative feelings.

To stay connected with loved ones, you can interact with them virtually or in person. If you’re feeling lonely or lost, seek professional help from therapy or counseling services. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help during the holidays.

Prioritizing Self-Care

Taking care of your mental and physical health is important, especially during the holidays. Make time for yourself and do things that make you happy. Remember to get enough rest and sleep well to feel your best mentally.

Staying healthy by exercising and eating balanced meals can also help you feel better overall. Make sure to set aside time for relaxation and things that help you feel less stressed.

Try not to spend too much time on social media and limit your use of technology, especially before going to bed. The blue light from your devices can impact your sleep.

Mental Health and Holidays – Seeking Help When Needed

If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You can talk to your doctor or a mental health professional for guidance and support.

It can also be helpful to use mental health services in your community. Talk therapy is another good option that can provide support and help you manage any negative feelings or stress that might come up.

It’s important to deal with any signs of depression or anxiety quickly and to get help if you’re struggling with substance use or addiction. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength and can greatly improve your overall well-being.

Staying Connected: Combating Loneliness and Isolation

Maintaining relationships with loved ones is important during the holidays to avoid feeling lonely and isolated. Try to stay in touch with friends and family through virtual or in-person interactions.

Participating in activities that promote a sense of belonging and connection can also help alleviate negative feelings. Enjoy holiday traditions and make new ones with loved ones to strengthen those bonds.

Additionally, think about looking into local community groups for social opportunities or joining a faith community for support and connection. By staying connected, you can avoid feeling down during the holidays and have a more enjoyable season.

Building Resilience to Navigate Holiday Stress

To handle the stress of mental health and holidays, it’s important to be strong. Your mental and physical health should come first during this time. Instead of expecting too much, focus on what you can control.

You don’t have to go and do something you don’t want just because it’s the holidays. If you don’t want to visit family because it will stress you out, don’t. It might upset some people, but it could protect you from potential family conflicts.

You have to learn to put yourself first. It is not selfish. Be proactive in taking care of yourself by making a schedule of when you will do your shopping, baking, and cleaning – and be sure to schedule time to take care of yourself and manage stressors. 

Numerous studies have pointed to the mental health benefits of spending time in nature, including stress relief, better concentration, lower levels of inflammation, and improved mental energy.

It’s important to seek help when needed, whether from a therapist, support group or loved ones, as part of mental health promotion. This is not a sign of weakness but a way to improve your mental well-being.

Make sure to take care of necessities, including eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, and finding time for exercise to maintain your mental health.

Ask for help from friends, family, or a group that supports you to control stress. Use techniques like deep breathing or meditation to manage stress. It’s also important to find good ways to deal with tough emotions.

By caring for yourself, being realistic, and asking for help, you can be strong and handle the stress of the holidays better. Remember, it’s normal to ask for help if you need it.

Encouraging Open Conversations

It’s important to put mental health out there and ensure everyone feels supported during the holidays.

We can create a place where people feel comfortable talking about their feelings and experiences. Not long ago, people were afraid to talk about mental health; that has gradually changed, thank goodness.

Talking about mental health reduces some people’s negative attitudes toward mental health and helps others understand what it’s like. It’s also important to know that mental health is just as important as physical health. Both are important all year long.

Common Challenges of Mental Health during the Holidays

Some common mental health challenges that people face during holidays include increased stress and anxiety, feelings of loneliness or isolation, financial strain, and unrealistic expectations. It’s important to put yourself first, set boundaries, and seek support if needed during this time.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), around 64% of people report that the holidays worsens their mental health conditions. If anyone needs help, telling them about the different services available is a good idea.

Finally, we should create opportunities for people to talk and listen without judgment so everyone can share their thoughts and feelings. Together, we can ensure we care for our mental wellbeing during the holidays.


Remember, you’re not alone. You can talk to friends, family, or professionals for help if you need it. Take care of yourself by doing things that make you happy and relaxed. It’s important to be strong during the holiday season, so try to manage your stress every day.

Lastly, we should discuss mental health and the holidays to help everyone. Together, we can improve the holidays for people struggling with their mental health.

Additional Resources

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

For confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year information and referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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