By Heather Metzger
The trees are decorated, people are rushing to the stores and malls and friends and family are ready to celebrate the season with plenty of spirits, food and cheer. But for those suffering from mental health issues, the holidays celebrate some of their biggest fears and challenges. Anyone who struggles with depression, anxiety, eating disorders or drug and alcohol abuse knows this all too well! Here are some tips for having a happy and healthy holiday season.
Take the time to connect with what’s important to you. The end of the year provides a great opportunity to leave old patterns and attitudes behind and plan to make a difference. Whether this means becoming more centered and focusing on a greater connection to others or finding a source of motivation in yourself, go ahead and spend some time in nature, go to a museum, or use your experience to show a lonely neighbor, a child who’s parents are over worked, or misguided teenager something of value.
Don’t be afraid to open up to open up to safe people. Seek out supportive friends and family and let them know that all the buffets, ringing of the champagne glasses and extra opportunities to let loose and worry about it tomorrow can have serious consequences for you. Plan ahead to seek out alternatives: plan a healthy menus and take on the challenge of recreating your holiday favorites, get active, enlist your friends and try ice skating or another exhilarating winter activity. Finally, don’t feel guilty for declining a party if your not up to it. Even the most festive of the bunch would hate to see you relapse.
Now’s not the time to ignore you support network and mental health practitioner. With all the commotion it can be tempting to cancel appointments, skip meetings or withdraw from others. A good therapist will be there to help you work-through difficult relationships and memories that come up during this time of year. A therapist is there to listen and support you without expecting you to be cheerful.
Don’t forget to plan ahead. Many pharmacies and practitioners have different hours over the holidays and you don’t want to be left out in the cold.
Remember, there’s other people going through something similar, you’re not alone! Some- times the strongest connections are made around a common experience.