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Home for the Holidays: Don’t Let your Mental Health Take a Back Seat

There’s something about going back to your childhood home, or hometown that makes you feel like you’re a kid again. But not everyone feels nostalgic when thinking about their childhood. It can be very difficult for someone whose childhood wasn’t easy, or whose relationships with family members have been a source of stress and anxiety to gather the courage to go home for this holiday tradition. Acknowledge your courage, and keep these helpful tips in mind:
  • Acknowledge the Impact of your Mental Health: Going home for the holidays can mean something different for those living with mental health conditions. It can mean conquering fears about traveling, feeling deeply the loss of a loved one, or trying to retain some semblance of the healthy coping skills you have developed as an adult living apart from your family. Acknowledging that you may have another layer on top of the normal holiday stress can help you be more compassionate to yourself.
  • Take Care of Yourself: It’s undoubtedly a busy time, but find some time to do some simple things to make sure you are giving yourself an adequate amount of self-care. Take a break every hour or so with family to go outside and take a walk or just sit outside by yourself. Try to focus on your breathing and being mindful. These are two things you can do no matter where you are or what’s going on.
  • Take Control When you Can: There are certain things that are out of your control like the weather or traffic, but there are other aspects of the holiday that aren’t set in stone. You are your biggest advocate. If the holiday tradition is more difficult because of it’s association with a lost loved one, talk with your family about doing something different. If you’re always the one preparing the meal, suggest going out to dinner or cooking something more simple this year.
  • Try Not to Compare your Holiday with Others: Social media makes it possible to see what all your friends are doing for their holiday but often these comparisons leave us feeling somewhat let down about our own holiday experience. Do yourself a favor and stay off social media for the day.

There are a number of ways you can make your holiday experience a more peaceful and pleasant one. Most of them start with knowing what makes you happy, and what triggers feelings of anxiety and depression and advocating for yourself if the situation calls for it. It’s not an easy to thing to do, so acknowledge your strength for being able to do so.