T’is the season to be grateful, loving, thankful, giving, peaceful, helpful, selfless, wise, thoughtful, kind, joyful, etc. But for those battling mental health disorders, the holidays may not bring joy and peace for them nor their family and friends. Anxiety, depression, mania do not stop for the holidays. These disorders tend to become more risqué. We can reduce holiday stress and limit the number of “incidents” if we following a few golden rules:
• Be grateful for your journey! The path you’ve travel details your growth. Embrace it!
• Maintain your mental health wellness practices throughout the holiday season. Holiday stress may require extra MHI. Remember, an ounce of prevention…
• Avoid toxic people/relationships.
• Eliminate “marathon” partying. Structure and consistency are your best friends.
• Provide the balance of structure and freedom so that you and your family are as safe as possible.
• BALANCE. BALANCE. BALANCE.
• Give without excess. Buying the “biggest” or the “most” doesn’t always equal the best.
• Enjoy simple pleasures, like a movie at home, a leisurely meal without a schedule, a favorite family entertainment venue and visit a museum.
• If finances are challenged, create vision boards with your family and/or friends for the upcoming year. It is powerful to witness visions accomplished and liberating to edit those that fell short.
• If you are a parent of young children or pre-teens, be sure to meet the parents/guardians of your child’s friends.
• Say no to sleep-overs with your child’s friends whose parents you do not know or whom you are uncomfortable.
• Follow your “gut” and be the parent at all times.
• Remove “drama” from your home and avoid getting involved in conflicts of others.
• MEDIATE daily. If mediation is not an option for you, spend some quiet-time in self-reflection and personal goal setting.
• Establish family goals and boundaries for the New Year.
• Implement a rigorous healthy eating and exercise regiment.
If you are a caretaker and witness a relapse, deal with it logically rather than emotionally. Harping on the past never supports the present or shapes the future. In addition implement the following:
• Keep your voice calm
• Use short sentences
• Listen to his/her story
• Offer options instead of trying to take control
• Ask how you can help
• Remain calm and avoid overreacting
• Move slowly
• Don’t argue or shout
• Keep stimulation level low
• Avoid eye contact/touching
• Announce actions before initiating them
• Give them space, don’t make them feel trapped
If unable to defuse the crisis, quickly seek the help of a mental health professional. Trained mental health professionals can assess the level of crisis intervention required and effectively facilitate the process. Every one of us faces trials in our lives. Some face minimum hardships, while others may have serious adversities to overcome. Today, many families are faced with various types of adversities that affect the entire family unit. Trying to manage a mental disorder with limited resources and support during the holidays can push many people over the edge.
What are some other strategies to help those battling mental illnesses to overcome difficulties during the holidays?