Well, we made it through Thanksgiving and now begins the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. There are some of us who would rather have it end at Thanksgiving. About 1 in 5 adults will suffer from some form of mental illness each year and the holiday season can trigger this. Feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety to name just a few. Chances are someone you know will or has been affected.

The holidays can be a stressful time of year for many with the shopping, decorating, gatherings, office parties, cooking, cleaning and family time. All this can add extra pressure to our already busy lives. Then there is the opposite that can takes place for many. Loneliness because of family dynamics, loss of a loved one, family members, traumatic childhood memories, or sense of not belonging. Let’s face it the holidays can be hard for some.

So what can we do to keep our recovery strong and our mental health in check? I have listed a few ideas that I use during this time and a few that others have shared with me.

Plan ahead: Try to keep a schedule and write down when invites are. It never fails that some events may overlap. Make sure to communicate with those who have invited you and don’t be afraid to say no or just make an appearance if necessary.

Plan your spending: This one can be hard. But I always say its not about the amount, it’s about the reason. Make a budget and stick to it. Homemade gifts with love are always a good way to go, if you’re that type a person. Remember, you still need to pay your household bills.

Maintain your self-care: Holidays are famous for ruining healthy habits. Remember to take care of yourself. Have fun of course, but remember to eat right and get enough sleep. Take time out for yourself! It’s hard to enjoy others if your are running yourself thin.

Respect differences: Not everyone will celebrate like you do and that’s okay. Look at differences as an opportunity to learn something new about the person your celebrating with. Who knows maybe you will start a new tradition.

Be realistic: This is a big one! We are only one person and can do only so much. Forget about the perfection and enjoy the company surrounding you. Say no if you have too and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Create a relaxing atmosphere: Start by lighting a few candles or putting on that fireplace channel on the T.V. It’s Christmas time so why not put on some Christmas music to enjoy? Maybe burn some citrus or lavender wax melts. The scent of citrus and lavender have a calming effect on the body.

Take a break: If you find yourself overwhelmed by the stress of this holiday season step away for a moment. Take a nap, read a book, go for a short walk or watch a funny movie. Laughing relaxes the whole body and is known to relieve physical tension and stress.

And lastly if you find yourself feeling depressed or lonely please…….

Share your feelings: For some the holidays are hard especially after the loss of a loved one. Even other traumatic experiences can cause the holidays to be a time of sorrow rather than joy. It’s important to share your feelings with someone. As hard as it seems, sharing your feeling does make you feel better. Just to be heard without judgement can be one of the most relieving thing to experience. You call for support anytime here at Life Connections Peer Recovery Services 563-659-1171 or The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 988. We are both available 24/7 and will remain confidential.

I hope this holiday season is one that will bring you joy and peace. May you remain mentally strong!

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