It’s hard to believe that the holidays are already upon us. In theory, it’s a season of joy, hope and gratitude. But for many, the holidays can be a time of stress, anxiety or depression.
Michael Weinberg, PhD, senior manager of Behavioral Health Services at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, offers a few suggestions to ward off some of the adverse effects the holidays can have on mental health, and ways to prevent them.
He noted that not everyone has a family to share their holidays with so, for many, the joyous stuff can come with serious baggage. Others are not comfortable in the presence of their family, for various reasons. And then there can be some practical issues.
“For some, it’s not possible to attend a gathering where alcohol is being served and consumed to excess,” he said. “But there are ways to navigate through this challenge.”
Weinberg said the first step is to recognize the only person you can control is yourself. The second is to state an affirmation out loud to yourself: “I am precious and worthy of a happy, good and meaningful life in spite of my imperfections.”
He added that one has to have conviction in this affirmation.
“If you believe it to be true for you, it will transform how you view life and the world we live in,” he said.Weinberg also offered the following suggestions to help enjoy the holiday season:
- Call one friend or relative each day and share a happy event in your life and inquire about the good stuff happening in their lives. Before hanging up, make a specific plan to get together.
- Get outside every day. Find a nice spot to sit, bring a magazine or book and read a little, but also make time to just take in the sounds and sights happening around you.
- Call your kids, parents or siblings just for the sake of calling. It’s OK if the conversation is short, the point is to relay a message of caring.
- Write down three projects you would like to accomplish during this holiday season. Take out your calendar and schedule them.
- If you are in recovery from an addiction, spend a lot of time working your program. Go to as many recovery meetings as you can, and make plans to get together with other folks in recovery. Spending the holidays sober is nothing short of wonderful.
- If you struggle with a depression or anxiety disorder, speak to your doctor or therapist about the holiday season and together come up with a plan to keep you healthy and safe.
“This time of year can be a challenge, but it can also be very special and rewarding,” Weinberg said. “Because the only person you have control over is yourself, only you need to make the changes and embrace your worth, recognizing that you deserve happiness.”