Mental Health Awareness During The Holidays


Rosie Garcia

As we enter the holidays, there are a variety of new anxieties, fears, and worries that strike upon us. In a study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, they noted that 64% of individuals living with a mental illness felt their conditions were far worse during this time of the season. Stress is also a big contributing factor to this issue. According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people surveyed say that their stress levels have a huge increase due to the holidays. This also has an effect on physical illness, depression, anxiety, and substance misuse. All of these are reasons given by the lack of time, financial pressure, gift-giving, and family gatherings. 


Putting on a Mask

It’s very common to want to bring that holiday spirit to the table and to be as positive and cheerful as ever. However, there is a lot of pressure being placed on people to always socialize and be happy. This prevents the urge to want to speak up over difficult times and when it comes to family gatherings or parties, it seems much easier to put on that mask. It’s important to recognize that you don’t need to force yourself to always be happy nor do you need to avoid your feelings just because of that “holiday spirit.” The holidays are much more than that, it is a time of year to spend time with family and be your best self!


The Remembrance of Grief 

Another huge factor as to why mental health takes a toll on people during the holidays is the realization of things that have occurred in the past. Spending time with family is one of the main things about this season and when dealing with grief and loss, it’s really easy to compare situations to others which leads to loneliness or sadness. A way to minimize these thoughts is to learn to not force yourself to celebrate or to connect with people when feeling down. Little by little, socializing can become easier and will overall make you feel much better at the end of the day. 


The Reality of Pressure 

During the holidays, we have higher expectations for ourselves and aim to do it all. It’s highly common to overschedule and get very overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done. Feeling stress over these small things will increase the risk of poor mental health. Therefore, a way to minimize this stress and pressure is to prioritize the most important activities, have lower expectations and instead create a plan that won’t overwhelm you, and to be aware of what you’re capable of achieving and what might not be able to get done. 


The Side of Gift Giving No One Talks About 

In recent studies, Mark Longsjo, LICSW, has concluded that many people get caught up in the commercialization and marketing of the holidays. People become extremely stressed out about the money and budget created when trying to get the right gift. There is an added pressure to spend loads of money on different things and financially it can be a concern. It’s important to note that gift-giving isn’t about spending money, but instead of giving thoughtful creative gifts. 


The Fear of Being Alone 

During this time, many of us connect with friends and family, but there is also the danger of becoming isolated. If you’re dealing with depression or anxiety, it can be hard to want to reach out to others or to want to spend time with loved ones. The holidays are already overwhelming on its own, but for people struggling with mental illness, things can feel much worse for them. 


What’s Next? 

As we approach the holiday season, check up on loved ones and make sure they’re holding up during this overwhelming and stressful time of the year. The holidays are all about having quality time with the people you love and spreading joy all around. With this being said, people struggling should get the attention they need and deserve.