Surviving the Holidays

The Holiday Season can be a time filled with joy, love and family for some people. For others, however, it can also be a time of stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression; especially if you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health challenge.

There are ways to navigate your way through this potentially trying time. The following is a not-exclusive list of things you can do that can help you have the best Holiday experience possible:

Be social - within reason. Let’s face it, sometimes we are simply too exhausted to attend yet ANOTHER holiday party. If your personal energy gauge is on empty, take care of yourself first. Even taking a brief nap so that you can arrive late, but refreshed, can make a huge difference; both for you, as well as the folks who you ultimately interact with.

Don’t Overspend. The over commercialization of the holiday season has been lamented for decades, yet retail America still assaults us every year with an endless list of gifts and “must have” items. The reality is most folks over the age of 15 just really want to see YOU, and not receive some present they might not even need, at a holiday get-together.

Don’t Overindulge. If you know there will be lots of high-calorie, less-than-healthy food and drink at your next social gathering, eat a light meal of healthy food right before you go. Then feel free to nibble on snacks and desserts in moderation, as opposed to arriving so famished your consume more than should before you even realize it. And if you drink alcohol, alternate every alcoholic drink with a full glass of water or non-alcoholic beverage; your head will thank you in the morning!

Steer clear of challenging people. If you know that there may be someone attending a social function who invariably says something that makes you feel bad, do the best you can to avoid the person. If you do need to interact, be polite, but come prepared to disengage if the conversation becomes uncomfortable. Your mental health comes first!

Exercise. Even if it is simply a 10-minute brisk walk around the block, exercise has been known to help improve your mood. Fresh air and sunshine have been scientifically proven to elevate the feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain, so do your best to get outside whenever you can and get that blood flowing.

Reach out. If you find that you aren’t in a good place or just want to maintain feeling good, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Whether it be a close friend, a loving family member, or your local support group; sometimes the best gift that others can give is compassionate understanding, a non-judgmental ear, or positive reinforcement.

NAMI Connecticut has more than 40 support groups across the state. For a list of support groups, including those for young adults as well as family members, and information on our Resource and Referral call-in line, be sure to check out the NAMI Connecticut website -

Have a Safe & Happy Holiday Season!

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