Here we are again – the holiday season for 2022 and the beginning of 2023 is upon us. This is a time of year when a large number of people are feeling festive, exuberant and excited to take part in countless celebrations with family and friends. It’s also an extremely busy time as people scramble around acquiring gifts for those special people in their lives. While this can all be quite a bit of fun, it’s also a time for a lot of people to remember to manage their holiday season mental health.
Our team of Orange County mental health professionals at SoCal Empowered always finds itself getting ready to help numerous people during the holiday season, as this is also a time that involves a lot of stress, sadness and loneliness. If you’re someone who suffers from mental health challenges, now is the time to get a holiday season mental health management plan in place. We’d like to provide you with some ideas to consider for inclusion below.
Holiday season mental health management starts with planning. You know well ahead of time that you’re going to be busy. You know that your family members, friends and coworkers have get-togethers every year. Sometime before all this starts, it may be helpful to pull out a calendar that you generally use and start filling in dates. This should not only include dates of when you think these festivities will be, but also dates for when you should have things purchased or organized in anticipation of these events.
For instance, if one of your siblings has a party every year with a secret gift exchange, buy that gift earlier than the day before the party. What leads to a lot of stress and, in some cases, actual anxiety is running around at the last minute, trying to find a gift in crowded stores or trying to decide if you need to pay that extra money for a rushed shipment for an online purchase. Avoid all of that by having the details that you know you’re going to encounter handled so that you’re better able to deal with the ones that surprise people every year at this time.
Give Yourself Outs
If you’re one of the millions of people in the United States who suffers from some form of anxiety, then all of these events can be extremely stressful. You may not be someone who enjoys being social, but it’s somewhat expected in many circles when this time of year rolls around. Rather than fight that, add another component to your holiday season mental health plan.
That component should be providing yourself with an out in case you need one. That doesn’t mean you should call the hosts and cancel at the last minute, but instead you can honestly tell these people ahead of time that get-togethers are not necessarily your thing and that while you appreciate the invitation, you’re only going to stay for a short visit. That will make encountering the situation easier for people who have anxiety and likely add to the overall enjoyment of these events.
Avoid People Who Have a Negative Effect on You
We all have that person in the family or that social contact who for whatever reason rubs us the wrong way. Maybe it’s a sibling who can come off as too judgmental or perhaps it’s an old school friend who says things he shouldn’t after he’s had a few too many, embarrassing you in the process.
Regardless of who or what, your holiday season mental health plan should involve ideas for avoiding people who do not have positive effects on you. There’s no reason to be overly direct or rude, but you can simply prepare yourself to keep any interactions with that person or those people polite but short. Once again, knowing that you have this plan in place will help you prepare for any stress that you may encounter.
Do Something Worthwhile
Not all gifts come in fancy boxes and wrapping paper with lovely bows. Gifts come in all shapes and sizes, and many do not even exist in physical form. One thing involved in almost all gift-giving is the feeling of warmth and happiness not only on the part of the recipient, but especially for the giver. The old saying, “Tis better to give than to receive” actually holds true in the world of psychology. This article cites several different studies that have been done that support this notion.
As part of your holiday season mental health plan, consider the idea of giving of yourself in some way that benefits others. Those who benefit may even be total strangers, but it does people good to make the lives of others better, even for a short amount of time. If you’re not in position to donate to a worthy cause, then you may be able to volunteer for a shift or two dishing out free meals to those in need or delivering donated gifts to those who receive them through a charitable organization. No act of kindness is too small, and your mental health will benefit from whatever you decide to do.
How SoCal Empowered Can Help
If you’re a person who struggles with mental health challenges, it’s possible that no holiday season mental health plan is going to make enough of a difference to prevent serious problems. The first thing you should remember is that this is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, but instead should be treated as you would any other illness. What that means is that you need to act, and that may involve seeking the help of mental health professionals.
The team of Orange County mental health professionals at SoCal Empowered is here to answer your questions and listen to your story at any time. All you need to do is contact us, and we’ll help you figure out the best way forward. Reach out to us today and take that first step towards putting these problems in the past.