Let’s face it, the holidays can be stressful. You might feel anxious about attending a work party this time of year. Perhaps the thought of opening gifts without a certain loved one is causing you to feel overwhelmed. If you are someone who struggles with disordered eating, family dinners might trigger unwanted behaviors. Financial stress can also be increased because of the festivities. The list goes on and on…
To add to the mix, we are also dealing with a global pandemic. For nearly 2 consecutive years, uncertainty has been staring us in the face. The burden of COVID-19 has affected us tremendously and there is no doubt that it’s altered our lives. Stress, anxiety and fears are heightened because of the pandemic. There’s no denying, we can’t ignore the impact it has on our mental health.
For many people, the holiday season isn’t so joyful; it’s hard on their mental health. We all try so hard to push these feelings to the back burner. Healthier options do exist for those coping with the blues of the season. This is a time, especially for those who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses, to tap into the many resources and tips available.
Lily Kubly and Kris Rick from the Charles E Kubly Foundation, a public charity devoted to improving the lives of those with depression, give insight on how to maintain your mental health during the holidays. The foundation operates out of Milwaukee County. They aim to fund mental health-related projects that strive to reduce suicide and the stigma associated with depression through education and resources.
1. Acknowledge Yourself
Take time for yourself this holiday season. Easier said than done, right?
Kubly says, “it can be as simple as sitting on the couch relaxing – or activities like meditation, a bath with candles lit & music playing, or finding time for other self-care practices in general. Journaling is also another great one. I find gratitude journaling (making a list of things you are thankful for until you run out of things to think of) daily can make a huge difference in mindset as well.”
Likewise, understand what your needs are and replenish yourself through this season. Get plenty of sleep, eat well-balanced meals, exercise, and take time to do your favorite hobbies amidst the hustle and bustle.
Understand that just because society coins this season as the “most wonderful time of the year,” you cannot force yourself to be happy. You do not have to silence your feelings. Acknowledge what you are going through and allow yourself to feel the array of emotions that you are experiencing.
2. Cope Ahead
Monica Quesnell has a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a certificate in trauma-informed care from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee.
She says, “when we are stressed or depressed it can be difficult to get going with something, especially if we are not prepared.”
Quesnell encourages a method called “Coping Ahead” to help people put the tools they need into their mental health tool chest so that when the time comes people can reach in and grab what they may need.
She says, “each person’s tool chest is going to have different things; what works for one person’s mental health might not work for another.”
It’s valuable to remember how individualized our needs and mental health are.
“Self-care is bespoke, made for a particular customer or user; tailored to you specifically. So sit down, and prepare yourself. What relaxes you? Who can you be around, even when you are not feeling your best? Buy the paint by numbers or warmer boots for those winter walks. Get the gym membership or keep some free weights by your couch,” says the mental health advocate.
The point is, people, need to do what works for themselves; especially during a time period with so much trauma, stress and hardship.
3. Lean on Resources
While everyone’s journey with their mental health is different, there are resources in the community that can help to meet everyone’s needs. There is no reason to walk alone through this holiday season.
Read 5 Mental Health Services in Racine County to gain information about organizations geared towards helping those in the community with their mental health.
- Racine County Crisis Services
- NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Health (Racine)
- Aging Disability Resource Center
- Women’s Resource Center
- Wisconsin COVID-19 Wellbeing Toolkit
- Charles E Kubly Foundation
- Racine Friendship Clubhouse
Holidays in Racine County
- The Big Give: A Giving Tuesday Guide
- RUSD Holiday Food Basket Giveaway
- Racine Theater Guild Presents A Christmas Story
- Racine/Kenosha Holiday Food Basket Program
- 5 Ways to Support Local Businesses During the Holiday Season
- Safe Holiday Foods to Share with your Pets
- Downtown Burlington Christmas Parade