During this time of year, many of us struggle with increased anxiety, depression, loneliness, and overall sadness. It’s the time of year when the days are shorter, we are indoors more, and the holidays quickly creep up on us. As we approach the gathering season, many of us may experience increased stress coupled with anxiety and sadness. So much of the stress we feel is the perceived pressure of the season. From the gifts to the holiday parties, it can take a lot of physical and mental energy that many of us are already depleted of these days.

Here are some tips for slowing down and enjoying the upcoming season…

  • To reduce feeling overwhelmed, decide ahead of time how busy you want to be this holiday season, then plan accordingly. Be clear and transparent with your loved ones and friends about what you can realistically commit to.

Example: You are looking forward to getting together with family for Thanksgiving Day, but do not feel up for the traditional rushing around on Black Friday with your best friend just to snag some early bird deals. Tell your best friend ahead of time that you won’t be able to make your shopping day this year and make an alternative plan to spend a low-key day together.

  • To combat high anxiety, identify who you would like to focus on this season and stick to the plan. If being in larger gathering with a mixed group of people makes you anxious, it is okay to pass on those events this year.

Example: You always attend you neighbor’s holiday party but are uneasy about large gatherings this year. Instead put drop some wine and an appetizer off at the party before everyone gets there or put together fun holiday bags for your neighbors and drop them at their doorsteps to let them know you are thinking about them.

  • To increase feelings of joy, even on the toughest days, there are always things we can be grateful for. Recognizing gratitude throughout the day can help us be in the present moment and to appreciate the small but significant things in our lives. If identifying gratitude isn’t a part of your daily to routine, try jotting down three things each day that you were grateful for.

Example: Identifying gratitude can be in any circumstance throughout your day. If it is a rough day, look around you and look for anything you are thankful for that makes your life better or more comfortable.

  • To decrease feelings of sadness, seek out the supportive people in your life. Make an extra effort to reach out to the people who you enjoy spending the most time. Engage in the traditions that bring you joy, but don’t cause you extra stress.

Example: In addition to seeking others out when you are having feelings of sadness, try reaching out to someone that you think may be struggling as well so you can support each other.

  • To maintain good mental health, increase self-care measures that you know work for you.

Example: If yoga and breathing exercises are something that helps you stay balanced, try increasing these exercises during the holiday season.

If you are really struggling with extreme sadness and/or anxiety, please reach out to your doctor or a therapist for help. Most local counties have hotlines you can call to get direction and support.

The national NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET.
1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org

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