This is a guest blog post authored by Carol Doggett, Senior Director of Marketing Communications and Outreach at Mental Health Advocates of WNY
Tis the Season!
SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS STARTS WITH SELF-CARE
Self-care is something we should prioritize year-round, but it is especially important during the holiday season when things become more hectic and stressful. High expectations, loneliness and stress can lead to the “Holiday Blues” during the season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. In most cases symptoms are temporary, but they can be serious if they last for more than two weeks.
According to a survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 24% of people with an existing mental health diagnosis find that the holidays make their condition “a lot” worse and 40% “somewhat” worse.
A good reminder for this time of year is to be patient and keep your expectations low. If holidays were a special time in the past and you try to recreate a time long gone, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Make room to create new memories and have some fun.
Whether you struggle with your mental health or are just feeling the pressure of the season, know your triggers and plan your coping strategies ahead of the rush. Here’s a quick list to remind you of self-care “do’s” to help get you through this holiday season.
Strategies for self-care and coping through the holidays:
- Get quality sleep
- Eat healthy foods (in addition to holiday treats!)
- Move your body
- Use mindfulness & meditation
- Do things you love
- Don’t worry about how things “should” be
- Be realistic. Set limits and boundaries
- Don’t try to be a superhero
- Ask for help
- Believe in yourself
“Self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation” -Audre Lorde, feminist and civil rights leader
If you or a family member are struggling with your emotions or mental health, and don’t know where to turn, call Mental Health Advocates (MHA) at 716-886-1242. MHA has Information & Referral Specialists available M-F, 8:30am – 4:30pm to help connect you to treatment or other local support services. You can also visit mhawny.org to learn more about our programs and community resources.
If you are in crisis, call or TEXT 988, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to those in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7. Or reach out to Mental Health America’s Crisis Text Line. Text to 741741 and you’ll be connected to a trained crisis counselor. Crisis Text Line provides free, text-based support 24/7.
Above all, be kind to yourself this holiday season. Be grateful for even the smallest things. Gratitude is an energy that feeds on itself and grows. When we find the blessings in life, we’re better able to let go and make room for joy.