The holiday season is often a stressful time for a majority of people; there’s gifts to buy, plans to make, food to prepare, etc. Sometimes, people have to face the holidays with one less relative, which is never easy. For the mentally ill, this time of year is all the more stressful.
For those struggling with anxiety, they have to try to communicate with a cluster of people whilst avoiding panic attacks. Eating disorders; they have to figure out routines and be faced with many challenge foods they may not be ready to take. Depression; they have to try to seem jolly for their relatives to avoid being a “bummer”. BFRBs; they have to try to conceal bald patches, scabs and behaviours they may not have control over yet. Self harm; they have to try to control the urges around the cluster of people. Borderline Personality Disorder; they have to try to remain in control when things are out of control and hectic.
Self-care is the best way to keep things under control at such a stressful time. You can consider your relatives, family and friends, but you can’t be fully you when your mental illness is pushing down on you. It’s important to identify when you need time for yourself; to pamper yourself, so that you can return to the festivities happily.
Baths. Bubble baths are always great to destress. They’re great for relaxing muscles, which can tense up when things are overwhelming, and they give you time to think by yourself. You could put on some soft tunes, lay in a bed of bubbles and let everything go. It’s time for you. Why not pamper yourself with a face mask, a scrubbing and possibly a manicure? Take this time to loosen up, be with yourself and be positive. The world can wait.
Hot Chocolate. The holidays just don’t seem like the holidays without its signature drink; hot chocolate. It’s warm, frothy, delicious, and easy to make homemade and vegan (skip on the cayenne). Why not throw in some candy canes, top with vegan whipped cream and marshmallows for that extra holiday kick? Spoil yourself.
This kind of treat will definitely bring joy and self-soothe some of those holiday anxieties. It gives you time to enjoy flavour, spend time with friends, read a book or work on your computer. We all deserve to treat ourselves during the holidays, and this might give you that extra kick when you’re feeling the winter blues.
Buy Yourself Something Nice. If you’re alone this time of year, it can be overwhelming to watch everyone make plans with their families and have gifts to share. In a time where everyone is spoiling one another, you can’t forget yourself. You deserve holiday gifts and joy as well, whether someone has some lined up for you or not. Go to the store, buy something that you’ve been wanting for a long time and enjoy it!
Thinking about what YOU want rather than what others want could be just the thing to make you happy. With mental illness, we often think about everyone else, and how they feel about our conditions and the repercussions we cause them. So, drop everyone else for a minute, and put yourself first. Your health, feelings and happiness is important.
Decorate. Decorating and admiring the work you’ve done can feel rewarding and welcoming. It really brings the season to life and can lift your mood. Bright lights, glitter and old time classical songs are just the thing to calm you down and take away your blues.
Puzzles and Colouring. Activities like these give you enough time to put your life on hold, evaluate your feelings and think about what to do next. For 10 minutes, you can focus, distract your mind and do something for yourself. Not to mention, seeing a completed piece you made can be fulfilling. This is a great coping mechanism to replace self-harm.
Talk to a Friend. Our families don’t always understand us and can be insensitive; bringing in an outside party could benefit you and bring peace. Our friends are aware of our struggles and won’t judge; they can provide advice and company when we need it most. Good company can be the solution to many issues.
Here are some other ideas.
- Read a book
- Pet an animal
- Go for a walk
- Sing/Play and instrument
- Deep breathing
- Touching different textures
- Listen to soft music
- Change rooms/environments
- Put on comfy pyjamas
- Call a friend
- Scribble harshly with pens
- Yell into a pillow
- Play a video game
- Join people
- Make yourself a hot drink
- Read (forums, newspapers, books, etc)
- Take a quick nap
- Play with your hair
Everyone should enjoy this holiday season, mentally ill or not. We have to focus on the signs of stressors or spirals and try to combat them with healthy coping mechanisms. It can be a fun time, if we allow it to and work on moving forward.
Take care of yourself.