Why are the Holidays Harder for People Suffering from Mental Illness?
Sometimes the holiday season seems more difficult when we have a mental illness. It is helpful to
understand why we feel like we are struggling with sadness, loneliness or being overwhelmed, while others seem joyful. Research has given us at Honey Lake Clinic some good insights.
Why Am I Different?
Let’s consider some facts about how our bodies, emotions, and minds work during emotionally and relationally heavy holidays:
• Often memories of past holiday hurts are in the forefront of our minds. That leaves our bodies in a state of heightened alert, having us ready to defend ourselves. If something traumatic happened over the holidays before, we may associate those feelings with what is happening now.
• Sometimes we are sad because we have lost someone close to us through divorce, death or estrangement. We don’t feel festive.
• Another challenge may be the seemingly perfect people on social media. Our insecurities may rise at the reality of our dysfunctional families and ordinary lives.
• And then there are the questions that people will ask at social gatherings – what will we say? Feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and failure can beg us to retreat in isolation, which is not a good plan.
Getting up the courage to join with family or friends is difficult if we are guarded. When we are not sure that people will be loving, kind or sympathetic, we may withdraw because we wonder if we will have the strength or courage to make it through the gatherings and parties.
Practically, when we take care of our physical, mental and spiritual needs, we are better able to cope with and even enjoy the holidays. By intentionally investing in ourselves this holiday season, we will find that many of the things that have been bearing down on us will be lifted.
Helpful Tips To Ease Holiday Struggles:
• Make sure to sit with the truths of God. Reading a devotional and praying will lift our spirits and change our perspective. Remember that God is with us.
• Use exercise to clear our minds and give us a mental and emotional lift. Even a solo dance party in our living room will brighten our perspective.
• Have friends and community stand with us and surround us with truth and prayer.
• Seek out a pastor or Biblical counselor to help work through feelings, family issues or past trauma. Let our Biblically-based staff serve you.
• Forgiveness is a powerful tool to relieve anger, bitterness, physical fatigue, and illness, diminishing depression and anxiety while helping us relate to people around us. Our caring staff will walk you through forgiveness so you can easily connect with God.
When More Help Is Needed
We should get help when the valley we are in seems daunting or when holiday obligations affect our everyday lives. By engaging one of our Board Certified psychiatric specialists, many things can be cleared up or helped because they test for things like anemia, low blood count or thyroid problems. They can advise on the use of medications, when appropriate.
All of these tools help make us better so we can be well and content during the holidays. Remember that whatever happened in a past holiday, today is a new season and God’s mercies are new every morning for each of us. We can count on them.