The dizzying obligations and responsibilities during the holidays can usher in uninvited guests: depression and stress. The list of expectations on many includes cooking, baking, shopping, hosting festivities, cleaning, or finding the energy to communicate with others. In addition, some may still worry about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential health impacts. However, all is not lost. There are a few ways your client can reduce stress levels during the holidays.
Find Support in Others
The holidays can upend anyone’s schedule or emotions. People can fall into and depend on a routine to help them cope with feelings and circumstances. However, the disruption to routines during the holidays can increase negative feelings like depression or anxiety. Throughout the year, people experience mental health issues, and during the holidays season, stress can increase, triggering other emotions.
Watching or hearing others enjoy their family or traditions is a challenge if your client recently lost someone or can’t be with their loved ones. Instead, help your client acknowledge their feelings of grief or sadness. Sometimes people need to hear that it’s okay to cry or healthily express their feelings. Combining holistic therapies with psychotherapy can build a solid foundation for their mental and physical well-being.
Encourage your client to reach out to others. Whether they seek support in a religious organization, social events, support groups, or close friends, the object is for them to know they’re not alone. Talking with others can decrease their feelings of isolation or loneliness. Even if your client isn’t comfortable talking with someone, you can discuss options like texting or group chats.
Due to the pandemic, some clients may not feel comfortable attending in-person gatherings. Have those clients research online communities that can help them acknowledge their feelings. Feeling supported and part of a community can alleviate some mental health distress.
People can find power or purpose when they are helping others or supporting a cause. Talk with your client about volunteering. Being an active part of a community that shares their values or beliefs lifts spirits and broadens their circle of friends.
Holidays can change throughout the years. There are times when some traditions are left behind while new traditions are incorporated. Family or friends may not always be able to come to a gathering. Since life changes and people evolve, having everything remain the same as in past years is unrealistic. Ask your client what they would change about the holidays to make them more enjoyable while spending time with friends and family. For example, instead of buying gifts for everyone, draw names or make meaningful gifts. Examples of meaningful gifts are framing pictures or printing out a map of a loved one’s hometown and placing a star where they once lived. Another example is making a book of coupons that the receiver can redeem when they need help cleaning, shopping, or completing other strenuous activities.
Your client can benefit from taking a personal inventory. Have them ask themselves if they can say no. When a person always says yes and fails to recognize their limits, they can increase stress, anxiety, or depression. For instance, ask others to decorate the tree, buy baked goods, make side dishes, or cook the central part of the meal. Taking the pressure off of preparing food may be what your client needs to feel joy. Have them work through their priorities, what is meaningful to them, and what they can delegate. Recognizing their needs is essential to their well-being.
Put a Pin in Conflict
Families don’t always get along. Some relatives ask too many personal questions, insist on doing things their way, or hold grudges. Guiding your client to accept their loved ones as they are despite everything is a way to reduce stress. However, if a loved one causes harm to their mental or physical well-being, they can avoid being with that person.
Before a holiday gathering, discuss grievances that your client may hold. A holiday gathering is not the appropriate time to air grudges or grievances. Instead, you can suggest inviting the person who hurt them to a therapy session. A constructive conversation with a neutral party moderating can begin the healing process.
Holidays heighten people’s emotions. Find ways your client can decrease their loved one’s stress. Most have unrealistic expectations during the holidays. When things go awry, some can become upset or distressed. Help your client recognize their loved ones may have feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, too.
Invest in Wellness
No matter what time of the year it is, self-care is essential. During the holiday season, your client may lose focus on their needs; however, taking time to step away and relax will help them with the season. A digital calendar or physical paper schedule that carves out self-care time is vital. People can’t take care of others if they don’t take care of themselves. Reflection on a person’s needs and preferences can guide them to make small steps to inner peace.
Steps to take breaks can include setting aside five minutes or more to exercise, meditate, or engage in breathwork. Sometimes one minute of gratitude can refocus a person. However, wellness is not measured by the amount of time.
People can envision what the perfect holiday gathering should look like. Still, sometimes things go haywire between obligations, increased demands on a person’s time, and unexpected mental health disorders like depression, stress, or anxiety increase. Before the festivities with loved ones begin, you can work with your client to set up a realistic schedule that recognizes and respects their needs. Before hurtful words are said, situations become uncomfortable, or harmful emotions increase, make plans. Your client is not obligated to take on every task or ignore their mental or physical health to please others. If your client turns to alcohol or drugs to help them cope, they should seek the care they need. Alta Centers guides those with substance addiction disorders to recognize and address their triggers. Through our programs, we bolster knowledge of addiction and how to live a healthy life. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about our services. Call (888) 202-2583.