Managing Stress During the Holidays

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GregsCloud Podcast
Managing Stress During the Holidays
Dec 24, 2023, Season 1, Episode 31
Greg Shaw
Episode Summary

25 Essential Tips for Practicing Self-Care During the Holidays

The holidays are a time for joy and celebration, but they can also be a source of stress and overwhelm. It's important to prioritize your mental health and practice self-care during this time.

One way to do this is to be mindful of your mental state and emotions. The holiday season often comes with increased expectations, financial pressures, and social obligations. These factors can contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression.

Taking care of our mental well-being allows us to better enjoy the festivities and maintain a healthy balance. 

If you find yourself in a mental health crisis, it's essential to reach out for help. Remember, you are not alone.

The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline - 988 📞 Get Help Now

If you're going through a mental health crisis, reach out to 988. The 988 Lifeline offers round-the-clock, free, and confidential support for people in distress. They provide resources for prevention and crisis management for you and your loved ones, as well as guidance for professionals.

Trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 to offer free and confidential support throughout the United States.

Warning Signs to Be Aware Of

Here are a few warning signs to be aware of that may indicate you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health during the holidays:

  1. Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  2. Withdrawal from social activities and relationships.
  3. Significant changes in appetite, sleep patterns, or energy levels.
  4. Increased irritability or anger.
  5. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  6. Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Here Are Some Tips for Prioritizing Your Mental Health During the Holidays

  1. Carve out daily "me time":
    Spend a few minutes each day in quiet reflection or deep breathing to center yourself and reduce stress.
  1. Set realistic expectations:
    Acknowledge that not everything will go according to plan, and that's okay. Establish reasonable expectations for yourself and others.
  1. Express gratitude:
    Take the time to appreciate others and acknowledge the good things in your life. Gratitude can improve your overall well-being.
  1. Set boundaries:
    Say no to commitments that drain your energy or add unnecessary stress. Prioritize your own well-being and set healthy.
  1. Prioritize rest:
    Ensure your body and mind are well-rested by getting enough sleep and making rest a priority.
  1. Incorporate exercise into your routine:
    Exercise is a great way to release stress and boost your mood. Find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your daily routine.
  1. Stay connected with loved ones:
    Whether it's through phone calls, video chats, or spending quality time together, staying connected with loved ones can provide support and bring joy.
  1. Engage in pleasurable activities:
    Make time for hobbies or creative outlets that bring you pleasure and make you feel alive.
  1. Practice mindfulness:
    Savor the simple pleasures of the holiday season by being fully present in the moment and practicing mindfulness.
  1. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption:
    Both alcohol and caffeine can have a negative impact on your mood and sleep patterns. Be mindful of your intake during the holiday season.
  1. Nourish your body with a balanced diet:
    Fuel your body and mind with nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A balanced diet can help maintain your well-being.
  1. Reduce stress with deep breathing exercises or meditation:
    Incorporate deep breathing exercises or meditation into your daily routine to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  1. Seek support if needed:
    If you're feeling overwhelmed or struggling with your mental health, reach out to a therapist or counselor for professional support.
  1. Practice self-compassion:
    Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you're doing the best you can. Prioritize self-care and show yourself compassion.
  1. Be kind and generous to others:
    Acts of kindness can improve your own sense of well-being. Spread joy by being kind and generous to others during the holiday season.
  1. Establish a daily routine or schedule:
    Creating a daily routine or schedule can provide structure and stability amidst the busyness of the holiday season.
  1. Disconnect from technology:
    Take breaks from social media and technology to recharge and focus on the present moment.
  2. Immerse yourself in nature:
    Spend time outdoors, whether it's taking a walk in the park or simply enjoying the fresh air. Nature can reduce stress and improve well-being.
  1. Set realistic financial goals:
    Avoid overspending during the holidays by setting realistic financial goals. Financial stress can be detrimental to your well-being after the holidays.
  1. Reflect on the past year and set intentions for the new year:
    Take time for self-reflection and set intentions for personal growth and self-improvement in the upcoming year.
  1. Surround yourself with positive people:
    Surrounding yourself with positive influences can uplift your spirit and support your overall well-being.
  1. Engage in relaxation activities:
    Find activities that promote relaxation, such as taking a warm bath, practicing aromatherapy, or indulging in a favorite hobby.
  1. Express your emotions:
    Whether it's through journaling, talking to a trusted friend, or seeking professional therapy, express your emotions in healthy ways.
  1. Find healthy coping mechanisms for stress:
    Explore different coping mechanisms for stress, such as listening to music, practicing yoga, or engaging in art therapy.
  1. Prioritize mental health all year long:
    Remember that self-care is an ongoing practice. Make it a priority to prioritize your mental health throughout the entire year.

It’s Okay to Ask For Help When You Need It.

If you or someone you know is experiencing warning signs of mental health concerns, it is important to seek professional help. Mental health professionals can provide support and guidance tailored to individual needs.

In addition to professional help, there are various resources available for self-care during the holidays, including:

  • Activities that promote relaxation, such as:
    • Meditation
    • Exercise
    • Spending time in nature
  • Connecting with loved ones
  • Setting boundaries
  • Managing expectations

Prioritize Your Mental Health and Well-Being

It is important to take care of yourself and prioritize your mental well-being this holiday season. Remember that it is okay to ask for help when needed.

Remember, while the holidays may heighten existing mental health struggles, focusing on support and connection can prevent tragic outcomes. Encourage anyone experiencing difficulties to reach out for help:

By following these essential tips for self-care during the holidays, you can navigate the season with greater ease, manage stress effectively, and fully enjoy this special time of year.

Remember to prioritize your well-being and make time for activities that bring you joy and peace.

Common Christmas and New Year Mental Health Concerns

Dark Nights and Bright Lights: The festive season brings a mix of emotions, with Christmas adverts and celebrations juxtaposed against mental health challenges.

  • Rising Mental Health Issues: Studies show a spike in anxiety and depression during December, with lower life satisfaction compared to other months.
  • Historical Trends: Historically, the holidays see a lower mood and increased alcohol-related fatalities, but fewer emergency room visits for mental illness.
  • Delayed Impact: Decreased emergency interventions in December might lead to increased mental health issues in the following months.
  • Depression and Rumination: Depression, often exacerbated during the holidays, can be fueled by rumination—repetitively thinking about past failures and what-ifs.
  • Holiday Triggers: The festive season can trigger rumination, reflecting on past Christmases and annual achievements, especially during challenging times.
  • Balancing Social Life and Rest: Navigating social obligations while ensuring rest and recovery is crucial for mental well-being during the holidays.
  • Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety, a common mental health issue, can intensify during the holidays due to social pressures and financial stresses.
  • Self-Help Strategies: Engaging in self-care activities like meditation, journaling, and exercise can alleviate anxiety symptoms.
  • Eating Disorders and the Holidays: The festive season's focus on food can exacerbate eating disorders, making it a challenging time for those affected.
  • Communication and Planning: People with eating disorders can benefit from discussing their concerns with therapists or nutritionists and setting boundaries with loved ones.
  • Food-Related Stress: The holidays often disrupt routines and dietary autonomy, adding stress for those with eating disorders.
  • Stress and Loneliness: Stress, not a mental illness itself, often increases during holidays, and loneliness can exacerbate mental health issues.
  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse: The holiday season can heighten the risk of alcohol and substance abuse, which are often linked to mental health conditions.
  • Grief During the Holidays: Grief, while not a mental illness, can be particularly intense during the holidays, bringing complex emotions.
  • Support Availability: If you're struggling with mental health during the holidays, remember you're not alone; help is available.
  • If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911.
    Let the operator know that you are calling about a mental health emergency
    Follow These Tips to ensure the police arrive prepared to respond appropriately.

If You Need to Call 911

If a situation escalates into a crisis, you may have to call the police. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to keep the situation as calm as possible.

On The Phone

Share all the information you can with your 911 operator. Tell the dispatcher that your loved one is having a mental health crisis and explain her mental health history and/or diagnosis. 

If the police who arrive aren't aware that a mental health crisis is occurring, they cannot handle the situation appropriately. 

Many communities have crisis intervention team (CIT) programs that train police officers to handle and respond safely to psychiatric crisis calls. Not every police officer is trained in a CIT program, but you should ask for a CIT officer if possible.

During A Crisis

Police are trained to maintain control and ensure safety. If you are worried about a police officer overreacting, the best way to ensure a safe outcome is to stay calm. 

When an officer arrives at your home, say "this is a mental health crisis." 

Mention you can share any helpful information, then step out of the way. Yelling or getting too close to the officer is likely to make them feel out of control. You want the officer as calm as possible.

Be aware that your loved one may be placed in handcuffs and transported in the back of a police car. This can be extremely upsetting to witness, so be prepared.

What Can The Police Do?

  • Transport a person who wants to go to the hospital. A well-trained CIT officer can often talk to a person who is upset, calm him down and convince him to go to the hospital voluntarily.
  • Take a person to a hospital for an involuntary evaluation. In certain circumstances, police can force a person in crisis to go to the hospital involuntarily for a mental health evaluation. 

The laws vary from state to state.

  • Check on the welfare of your family member if you are worried about them or can't reach them. 

Call the non-emergency number for the police department in your community and explain why you are concerned. 

Ask them to conduct a welfare check.

If you have questions about the laws in your state, talk to your local police department or contact your local NAMI.

You Matter

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season, however you choose to celebrate or not. Remember you are never truly alone, and if nobody has told you so lately, remember you matter, people do care, I care.

Thank You for listening, and until next time, bye for now.

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Managing Stress During the Holidays
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25 Essential Tips for Practicing Self-Care During the Holidays

The holidays are a time for joy and celebration, but they can also be a source of stress and overwhelm. It's important to prioritize your mental health and practice self-care during this time.

One way to do this is to be mindful of your mental state and emotions. The holiday season often comes with increased expectations, financial pressures, and social obligations. These factors can contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression.

Taking care of our mental well-being allows us to better enjoy the festivities and maintain a healthy balance. 

If you find yourself in a mental health crisis, it's essential to reach out for help. Remember, you are not alone.

The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline - 988 📞 Get Help Now

If you're going through a mental health crisis, reach out to 988. The 988 Lifeline offers round-the-clock, free, and confidential support for people in distress. They provide resources for prevention and crisis management for you and your loved ones, as well as guidance for professionals.

Trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 to offer free and confidential support throughout the United States.

Warning Signs to Be Aware Of

Here are a few warning signs to be aware of that may indicate you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health during the holidays:

  1. Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  2. Withdrawal from social activities and relationships.
  3. Significant changes in appetite, sleep patterns, or energy levels.
  4. Increased irritability or anger.
  5. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  6. Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Here Are Some Tips for Prioritizing Your Mental Health During the Holidays

  1. Carve out daily "me time":
    Spend a few minutes each day in quiet reflection or deep breathing to center yourself and reduce stress.
  1. Set realistic expectations:
    Acknowledge that not everything will go according to plan, and that's okay. Establish reasonable expectations for yourself and others.
  1. Express gratitude:
    Take the time to appreciate others and acknowledge the good things in your life. Gratitude can improve your overall well-being.
  1. Set boundaries:
    Say no to commitments that drain your energy or add unnecessary stress. Prioritize your own well-being and set healthy.
  1. Prioritize rest:
    Ensure your body and mind are well-rested by getting enough sleep and making rest a priority.
  1. Incorporate exercise into your routine:
    Exercise is a great way to release stress and boost your mood. Find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your daily routine.
  1. Stay connected with loved ones:
    Whether it's through phone calls, video chats, or spending quality time together, staying connected with loved ones can provide support and bring joy.
  1. Engage in pleasurable activities:
    Make time for hobbies or creative outlets that bring you pleasure and make you feel alive.
  1. Practice mindfulness:
    Savor the simple pleasures of the holiday season by being fully present in the moment and practicing mindfulness.
  1. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption:
    Both alcohol and caffeine can have a negative impact on your mood and sleep patterns. Be mindful of your intake during the holiday season.
  1. Nourish your body with a balanced diet:
    Fuel your body and mind with nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A balanced diet can help maintain your well-being.
  1. Reduce stress with deep breathing exercises or meditation:
    Incorporate deep breathing exercises or meditation into your daily routine to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  1. Seek support if needed:
    If you're feeling overwhelmed or struggling with your mental health, reach out to a therapist or counselor for professional support.
  1. Practice self-compassion:
    Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you're doing the best you can. Prioritize self-care and show yourself compassion.
  1. Be kind and generous to others:
    Acts of kindness can improve your own sense of well-being. Spread joy by being kind and generous to others during the holiday season.
  1. Establish a daily routine or schedule:
    Creating a daily routine or schedule can provide structure and stability amidst the busyness of the holiday season.
  1. Disconnect from technology:
    Take breaks from social media and technology to recharge and focus on the present moment.
  2. Immerse yourself in nature:
    Spend time outdoors, whether it's taking a walk in the park or simply enjoying the fresh air. Nature can reduce stress and improve well-being.
  1. Set realistic financial goals:
    Avoid overspending during the holidays by setting realistic financial goals. Financial stress can be detrimental to your well-being after the holidays.
  1. Reflect on the past year and set intentions for the new year:
    Take time for self-reflection and set intentions for personal growth and self-improvement in the upcoming year.
  1. Surround yourself with positive people:
    Surrounding yourself with positive influences can uplift your spirit and support your overall well-being.
  1. Engage in relaxation activities:
    Find activities that promote relaxation, such as taking a warm bath, practicing aromatherapy, or indulging in a favorite hobby.
  1. Express your emotions:
    Whether it's through journaling, talking to a trusted friend, or seeking professional therapy, express your emotions in healthy ways.
  1. Find healthy coping mechanisms for stress:
    Explore different coping mechanisms for stress, such as listening to music, practicing yoga, or engaging in art therapy.
  1. Prioritize mental health all year long:
    Remember that self-care is an ongoing practice. Make it a priority to prioritize your mental health throughout the entire year.

It’s Okay to Ask For Help When You Need It.

If you or someone you know is experiencing warning signs of mental health concerns, it is important to seek professional help. Mental health professionals can provide support and guidance tailored to individual needs.

In addition to professional help, there are various resources available for self-care during the holidays, including:

  • Activities that promote relaxation, such as:
    • Meditation
    • Exercise
    • Spending time in nature
  • Connecting with loved ones
  • Setting boundaries
  • Managing expectations

Prioritize Your Mental Health and Well-Being

It is important to take care of yourself and prioritize your mental well-being this holiday season. Remember that it is okay to ask for help when needed.

Remember, while the holidays may heighten existing mental health struggles, focusing on support and connection can prevent tragic outcomes. Encourage anyone experiencing difficulties to reach out for help:

By following these essential tips for self-care during the holidays, you can navigate the season with greater ease, manage stress effectively, and fully enjoy this special time of year.

Remember to prioritize your well-being and make time for activities that bring you joy and peace.

Common Christmas and New Year Mental Health Concerns

Dark Nights and Bright Lights: The festive season brings a mix of emotions, with Christmas adverts and celebrations juxtaposed against mental health challenges.

  • Rising Mental Health Issues: Studies show a spike in anxiety and depression during December, with lower life satisfaction compared to other months.
  • Historical Trends: Historically, the holidays see a lower mood and increased alcohol-related fatalities, but fewer emergency room visits for mental illness.
  • Delayed Impact: Decreased emergency interventions in December might lead to increased mental health issues in the following months.
  • Depression and Rumination: Depression, often exacerbated during the holidays, can be fueled by rumination—repetitively thinking about past failures and what-ifs.
  • Holiday Triggers: The festive season can trigger rumination, reflecting on past Christmases and annual achievements, especially during challenging times.
  • Balancing Social Life and Rest: Navigating social obligations while ensuring rest and recovery is crucial for mental well-being during the holidays.
  • Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety, a common mental health issue, can intensify during the holidays due to social pressures and financial stresses.
  • Self-Help Strategies: Engaging in self-care activities like meditation, journaling, and exercise can alleviate anxiety symptoms.
  • Eating Disorders and the Holidays: The festive season's focus on food can exacerbate eating disorders, making it a challenging time for those affected.
  • Communication and Planning: People with eating disorders can benefit from discussing their concerns with therapists or nutritionists and setting boundaries with loved ones.
  • Food-Related Stress: The holidays often disrupt routines and dietary autonomy, adding stress for those with eating disorders.
  • Stress and Loneliness: Stress, not a mental illness itself, often increases during holidays, and loneliness can exacerbate mental health issues.
  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse: The holiday season can heighten the risk of alcohol and substance abuse, which are often linked to mental health conditions.
  • Grief During the Holidays: Grief, while not a mental illness, can be particularly intense during the holidays, bringing complex emotions.
  • Support Availability: If you're struggling with mental health during the holidays, remember you're not alone; help is available.
  • If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911.
    Let the operator know that you are calling about a mental health emergency
    Follow These Tips to ensure the police arrive prepared to respond appropriately.

If You Need to Call 911

If a situation escalates into a crisis, you may have to call the police. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to keep the situation as calm as possible.

On The Phone

Share all the information you can with your 911 operator. Tell the dispatcher that your loved one is having a mental health crisis and explain her mental health history and/or diagnosis. 

If the police who arrive aren't aware that a mental health crisis is occurring, they cannot handle the situation appropriately. 

Many communities have crisis intervention team (CIT) programs that train police officers to handle and respond safely to psychiatric crisis calls. Not every police officer is trained in a CIT program, but you should ask for a CIT officer if possible.

During A Crisis

Police are trained to maintain control and ensure safety. If you are worried about a police officer overreacting, the best way to ensure a safe outcome is to stay calm. 

When an officer arrives at your home, say "this is a mental health crisis." 

Mention you can share any helpful information, then step out of the way. Yelling or getting too close to the officer is likely to make them feel out of control. You want the officer as calm as possible.

Be aware that your loved one may be placed in handcuffs and transported in the back of a police car. This can be extremely upsetting to witness, so be prepared.

What Can The Police Do?

  • Transport a person who wants to go to the hospital. A well-trained CIT officer can often talk to a person who is upset, calm him down and convince him to go to the hospital voluntarily.
  • Take a person to a hospital for an involuntary evaluation. In certain circumstances, police can force a person in crisis to go to the hospital involuntarily for a mental health evaluation. 

The laws vary from state to state.

  • Check on the welfare of your family member if you are worried about them or can't reach them. 

Call the non-emergency number for the police department in your community and explain why you are concerned. 

Ask them to conduct a welfare check.

If you have questions about the laws in your state, talk to your local police department or contact your local NAMI.

You Matter

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season, however you choose to celebrate or not. Remember you are never truly alone, and if nobody has told you so lately, remember you matter, people do care, I care.

Thank You for listening, and until next time, bye for now.

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