It’s the season to be jolly……… for some it is, for some it is not. My reason for writing this blog is to create awareness and sensitivity for those who are struggling despite the fact or the belief that it is the season to be jolly.

“This time of year can be overwhelming,” says psychotherapist Ruairí Stewart aka ‘The Happy Whole Coach’. “The Christmas period comes with the expectation that we should be happy, carefree, merry, spending time with friends and family, but for many, it brings peak stress levels as we attempt to juggle responsibilities, meet expectations and cope with feelings of depression and anxiety.”

Many people who experience depression, anxiety and stress during the holidays are told or believe that they should just ‘get over it’. But having the ‘holiday blues’ is more than a down-day… and you can’t  ‘will’ yourself out of it. Family, friends and loved ones may not understand your feelings or behaviors, and you wanting to avoid certain things or situations can create conflict.

Everyone has their own version of Christmas and an idea of what the experience should be. For a lot of people, this means living up to certain expectations and that can be a lot to take on. Let go of those expectations and connect with the people around you, put some extra decorations up at home, try a new festive recipe! Accept that this year might look a little different, and try to embrace it. Not every year will look the same.

A few ways to cope better with festive season blues and stresses:

  • The biggest present you can give yourself or others this festive season is to try and live in the moment, being present.
  • Wind down the year, do not go from an extreme busy routine to nothing, this will affect your immune system and in turn your health.
  • Keep somewhat of a routine, a routine is important. Ensuring that you meet all the main areas of self-care, physical, spiritual and emotional.
  • Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be a valuable mental wellness tool. Certain practices can be particularly helpful if you are traveling or running on an unusual schedule. If you’re new to mindfulness, the online MSW program at the University of Southern California created a Mindfulness Toolkit featuring free mindfulness resources, like guided meditations for beginners.

  • Don’t Rely On Drugs And Alcohol

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends avoiding drugs and alcohol for comfort. While the prospect of escape can be appealing, substance use can ultimately worsen your issues. There is a 20% overlap between people with anxiety or mood disorders and substance use disorders, and substances can exacerbate symptoms. When you feel you need a relaxation aid, you can instead turn to a mindfulness tactic or other healthy coping mechanism.

  • Soak Up The Sun

Numerous studies have pointed to the mental health benefits of spending time in nature, including stress relief, better concentration, lower levels of inflammation and improved mental energy.

  • Set Realistic Expectations

Another major source of anxiety, stress and depression around the holidays can be examining accomplishments from the past year. Some may experience negative feelings over not being at a place they feel they “should be” in life. Get yourself out of this space by adjusting expectations and setting realistic goals. For example, if you’re trying to establish an exercise routine, try setting a goal of talking a walk three times a week rather than vowing to do CrossFit every day.

Managing mental illness is always challenging, but it can be particularly difficult during the holiday season. While the struggle can feel isolating, remember that you are far from alone. Seek help from professional mental health services, maintain your self-care routines and include mindfulness practices into your days as you approach 2024.

My practice will be closed from the 25th of December and will reopen on the 3rd of January 2024:

For support and guidance please contact SADAG 0800 567 567

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for an online counselling session in January 2024. Let’s together create an environment where you can connect with yourself again, an environment that fosters and encourages authenticity. An environment where you can follow your gut and get to know what it looks like.

After doing an intake I might be able to help you with a few sessions using BWRT (Brainworking Recursive Therapy) read more about BWRT on another blog on my website: https://thewellsamaria.co.za/what-is-brainworking-recursive-therapy-or-bwrt/, or we will use another technique depending on your unique needs.

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