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Four Ways to Have a Mentally Healthy Holiday Season

As the holiday season lights up Oklahoma, not all of us are feeling merry and bright. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 3 in 5 Americans say the holiday season has a negative impact on their mental health and 64% of people living with a mental illness say their condition worsens this time of year.

Whether you’re struggling to keep up, dealing with seasonal depression, or grieving a loved one who’s not here this year, Oklahoma’s 988 Mental Health Lifeline has your back. Here are a few tips to navigate the season with positive mental health and hope. 

Set Realistic Expectations

One of the most common triggers during the holidays is the pressure to meet unrealistic standards. Whether it’s hosting the perfect gathering or hunting down that impossible-to-find present, it can all be a lot to live up to. This year, give yourself the gift of grace. If everything doesn’t go exactly as planned, it’s not the end of the world. The most important part of the season is that you’re still with us and celebrating with the people you love most.

Prioritize Self Care

Amidst the family dinners and office holiday parties, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. Consciously blocking out time for self care is essential for staying mentally healthy during the holidays. Along with your typical routine, here are a few festive self care ideas to throw into the mix: 

  • Bundle up for a walk to see the decorations in your neighborhood
  • Pray, meditate, or practice deep breathing 
  • Add a few drops of peppermint oil to a long bath
  • Do a holiday-themed craft or DIY project
  • Grab a hot cocoa and take a short road trip to the Chickasha Festival of Lights, Broken Arrow’s Rhema Lights or the Route 66 Christmas Chute in Sapulpa
  • Start a daily gratitude journal 
  • Make mocktails and watch your favorite holiday movie
  • Crank up the carols and bake cookies
  • Volunteer at your local food bank or shelter

By putting your wellness first, you’ll be better prepared to handle any unexpected challenges and free to be more present with friends and family.

Connect with Loved Ones

The holidays are a time for connection and togetherness, but that doesn’t mean you have to fill your calendar with stressful events. If you’re not feeling mentally up for big parties, keep things simple with a small get-together at home or call up a friend or family member. If your loved ones are spread across the country, schedule a virtual hangout to open gifts and play games. 

It’s also important to check-in on your loved ones during the holidays, especially if they’re celebrating alone, grieving a loss, or living with a mental illness. Listen, share your feelings, and offer a shoulder to lean on. And if you’re struggling yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for support. Being a human is hard, but talking to other humans makes it a whole lot easier.

Seek Professional Support

Sometimes life’s too heavy to carry alone. If you need an extra hand managing the holiday season stress, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to a counselor or therapist. Along with talking things out, a mental health professional can connect you with valuable tools and strategies to help you navigate the complexities of the season.

Oklahoma’s 988 Mental Health Lifeline not only offers support and resources, but our trained crisis counselors can connect you with a local mental health provider. Typically, these providers have same-day or next-day availability. Call or text 988 to talk with a crisis counselor. Someone is ready to listen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They’re even available on holidays. 

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