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Holiday Tips for Mental Health

Posted By Administration, Monday, December 22, 2014

“I hate the holidays!” Sound familiar? As a psychologist, I am well aware of how the upcoming holiday season can wreak havoc on emotional well- being. For those who struggle with anxiety, depression, or chronic stress, this time of year can be particularly challenging. So, be gentle on yourself! Here are a few guidelines for shiftingyour holiday nightmares into an opportunity for self- awareness and personal growth.

  • Surprise yourself by saying “no” or “yes”. Many of us are pleasers and respond to invitations automatically. Instead, pause long enough to determine how you feel about the invitation. If you are too busy already, surprise yourself by responding “no”. If you tend to isolate during the holidays, surprise yourself with “yes” to an event that you would enjoy attending.

  • Plan ahead. The holidays are often a time of excessive drinking, eating, spending, and staying out late. Spontaneity and pleasure are important but not at the expense of the negative feelings that can follow the next day. If you are prone to excessive use of food, alcohol, or extreme behavior as an emotional salve, plan ahead! Just your intent to take care of yourself may lead to an outcome you’ll feel good about.

  • Don’t be a saint. The holidays are a time of giving,yet be realistic. Determine what your expectations are of yourself and others during this season. Take some time now, before you get into the fray of reacting, to assess what you need, want and desire for and from others during the next two months. What is possible based on your time, physical and emotional energy. If you have specific expectations, make these your priority and let others know what you need or desire from them. Be careful not to set yourself up for a sense of failure or depletion.

If feelings of hopeless, sadness, fear, or the need for isolation or excessive consumption continue into the 2015, consider meeting with a therapist to evaluate whether you suffer from depression, anxiety, or addiction. Seek support so that next holiday season will be your best year yet!

Caroline Steelberg, Psy.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with private practice offices in the Chicago loop and Andersonville.

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