Mental Illness

Navigating the Stress of the Holidays With a Mental Illness

By November 29, 2013No Comments

Holiday Stress 1Holiday time usually means crunch time. The pressure of activities and the stress of shopping and preparing can feel like too much for anyone. When a person is living with a mental illness, added pressure can seem overwhelming. Here is some expert advice on how to cope with holiday stress when life already feels challenging enough.

1. Keep your healthy routine
With all the seasonal demands on your time, be extra careful to protect those things which help you be your best. Safeguard your sleep. Don’t skip exercising. Have some relaxed social time.

2. Be realistic
It likely won’t be possible to attend every event, prepare perfect food for every meal, or meet everyone else’s expectations. So do some planning and decide what you can and what you cannot do. If saying “no” makes you feel guilty, ask your counselor or a friend to help keep you accountable to limiting
your activities.

3. Identify your stressors
Maybe being with family is a major stress factor for you. If so, consider just showing up for pie and coffee rather than for the entire day. Or, have a temporary escape avenue – like walking the dog or calling a supportive friend. Your friend may appreciate the time-out from her family for a few minutes as well. Whatever it is that makes you feel overwhelmed, have a plan for coping in advance.

4. Don’t isolate
If you are struggling when everyone around you seems happy it may be tempting to withdraw and isolate yourself. Instead, call a trusted friend. Maybe meet them for lunch. As much as you want to pull away – resist the temptation. The only way to halt the downward spiral is with an upward decision.

5. Don’t drink, do laugh
Alcohol will not help your feeling of being overwhelmed and in fact can make the situation worse.  On the other hand, research has shown laughter to be good best medicine for stress, so be sure to laugh a lot. Check out a funny movie. Read the comic section of your newspaper. Play a fun game.

If you’ve been trying to hold it together on your own but the holidays make you feel pushed to your limit, there’s no need to feel alone. The team at Family Guidance Center understands what you’re going through. Give them a call to find help and support even in the midst of a busy season.