Suddenly it is November, and I cannot believe this year is almost over! Holiday fever is here, you can see it all over people: putting out decorations, shopping, and planning. You see a lot of movement.
However, most of our patients get worse during this time. This may surprise some because we don’t always talk about our mental health, especially during times people are normally focused on being thankful and happy. Everyone has different circumstances though. There can be painful dynamics and many people are reminded of the who or what might be missing around the holiday table. Social media adds pressure when you see happy faces and beautiful gatherings and are left feeling the need to pretend to be happy or maybe sadder not having the gatherings or family and friends to visit.
It is important to understand that everyone around you may not all feel the same way that you do. Spread holiday cheer, but also be cognizant of those who have gone through hard times, have distant families, or have difficult relationship dynamics.
How can we help ourselves when feeling bummed around the holidays?
You can’t wait for it to hit you; you must prepare for it in advance. Like going into battle, have a game plan. Whatever you have control over, try to plan. What do you want to do during the holidays? Give yourself something to look forward to that makes you happy.
We don’t have control over what happens to us and our particular family dynamics, but we can control what happens within us and work to pursue what makes us happy. If you have always wanted to complete a large puzzle, buy it, and complete it. Look for goals that will give you a sense of pride and that you will enjoy. You can even plan for next year, save up, and set goals for how you can get through the holidays without getting down about your circumstances.
When you are divorced, for example, kids spend time with their dad’s family and mom’s family. There will be one holiday when they aren’t with one parent or the other. It can be a very difficult transition and is hard for parents when they have time without their kids.
Use that time, around the holidays or anytime, to do something you wished you could do but could not because you were caring for your kids. Plan activities that will give you something to look forward to, but also keep you occupied while you may be missing children or loved ones. It is important if you are not looking forward to the holiday season, it is important to know that it can be a difficult time for you and to plan accordingly.
It is a great time to schedule a visit with one of our providers to work on yourself and let them help you navigate a difficult season.
By: A. Johanna Lu, MD, ABPN
Psychiatrist, Co-Founder and Medical Director
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