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  • Writer's pictureKaren Jeffrey

Your mental health and the holidays

Hanging out with friends for the holiday
How the holidays impact your mental health

The impact of holidays on mental health can vary from person to person, and while many people experience joy and connection during this time, others may face challenges that affect their mental well-being. You are not alone if the holidays bring up mixed feelings.

Here are some ways in which the holidays can impact mental health, both positively and negatively:

  1. Positive Impact:

    • Social Connection: Holidays often provide opportunities for socializing with friends and family. Positive social interactions can contribute to feelings of belonging and support, positively influencing mental well-being.

    • Joy and Celebration: The festive atmosphere, decorations, and traditions associated with holidays can bring joy and a sense of celebration, contributing to a positive mood.

  1. Negative Impact:

    • Stress and Pressure: The holiday season can bring added stress due to various factors such as gift-giving, travel, and event planning. Financial pressures associated with buying gifts or hosting gatherings can contribute to anxiety.

    • Loneliness: For some individuals, the holidays can intensify feelings of loneliness and isolation, particularly if they are separated from loved ones or do not have strong social connections.

    • Grief and Loss: For those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a challenging time, triggering feelings of grief and sadness.

  1. Expectations vs. Reality:

    • Discrepancy in Expectations: Sometimes, the gap between the idealized expectations of a perfect holiday and the reality of one's circumstances can lead to disappointment and a sense of failure.

  1. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

    • Impact on Mood: In some regions, the winter holidays coincide with a period of reduced sunlight, contributing to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for some individuals. This can result in symptoms such as low energy, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns.

  1. Overindulgence:

    • Substance Use and Overeating: The holidays may involve increased consumption of alcohol and rich, indulgent foods. For some individuals, this can lead to overindulgence and negative consequences for mental health.

  1. Pressure to Be Happy:

    • Social Comparison: The pervasive cultural expectation of happiness during the holidays can create pressure for individuals to appear happy, even if they are struggling. This pressure can contribute to feelings of inadequacy or guilt for not meeting societal expectations.

To support mental health during the holidays, you can consider setting realistic expectations, practicing self-care, seeking support when needed, and being mindful of your emotional well-being. If someone is experiencing significant distress, it may be helpful to reach out to mental health professionals for guidance and support.

Take care and let us know how we can support you!

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