The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. Loneliness, financial hardship, and many other factors can contribute to added stress. If you feel depressed, anxious, angry or hopeless, it is important to know that:
You are not alone. There is no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed if you are feeling overwhelmed, in crisis or having suicidal thoughts. Millions of Americans are experiencing the same struggles.
Help is available to get you through a mental health crisis. The most important first step you can take is to reach out and talk to someone.
988 is the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Anyone can call, text or chat that number to reach a trained counselor 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides a direct line to people who offer compassionate, professional care during times of struggle. All calls are confidential and free.
Talking to someone about your thoughts and feelings can get you through a crisis, give you hope, and potentially save your life.
Holiday Self-Care Tips
If you know in advance that the holiday season tends to be tough for you emotionally, take the time to consider your needs and practice self-care. Here are some basic holiday self-care ideas provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help you cope:
- Take a walk outside. Research indicates that being immersed in nature can help with mild depression and anxiety symptoms. For example, just going for a walk or a hike in a natural setting can help you manage these depression and anxiety symptoms. Consider setting a reminder for yourself to get up and get out! This will help you stick to your plan to get some fresh air and will also help you maintain positive mental health throughout your day.
- Connect with family or friends. This is another great way to reduce stress and even improve mental health. We are social beings and thrive on the connection, support, love, and belonging that friends, family, and our communities bring to us. Studies show that people who feel connected to others are less likely to feel anxiety or sadness, and often feel increased happiness.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness techniques, such as breathing exercises or guided meditation, can help manage stress and anxiety. Making time for mindful techniques, even just a few minutes at the end, or beginning, of your day can make a big difference.
- Spend time with pets. Owning a pet or spending time with a friend’s pet can help to reduce stress and boost endorphins.
- Volunteer. Helping others and participating in community organizations can also be a positive boost. Many community organizations welcome volunteers.
- Sleep. Another critical piece to maintaining positive mental health is getting enough sleep. Set your sights on trying to sleep for however long you need to feel rested and recharged during the day.
- Join a support group: Reach out and connect with others who can share strategies for getting through challenging times.
- Eat right. Food can affect our mood. Avoid processed and sugary foods.
- Exercise. Spend time each day to walk, run, bike, or whatever you can do to move your body.
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol and other substance use. Limiting the use of substances will improve your health and mental health.
- Practice self-gratitude. Being grateful for yourself, what you have, and the life around you, can promote positive thinking.
- Take a day off from social media and the Internet.
- Give yourself permission to say no. The business of the holidays can be overwhelming. Sometimes just saying no to plans or events can reduce your stress.
- Take a mental health day from school, work, etc. Your mental health is as important as your physical health and you should treat it with the same consideration.
- Dial 988 when you need to talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be a moment of crisis. If you need the emotional support, the counselors at 988 are there for you.