Tips for managing mental health during the holidays

Mental health tips during the holidays.
Mental health tips during the holidays.(WECT News)
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 8:41 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - We tend to talk about the holidays with a smile, but the reality is that it can be a tough time of year for many people.

Whether it’s grieving the loss of a loved one or feeling the stress of high expectations, the holidays can be hard.

Kathleen Young, Director of Behavioral Medicine at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, said that if you are feeling sad or lonely — you should not go it alone.

“If you are feeling sad, if you are feeling alone, do what you can to be able to bring as much happiness and joy even if times are tough into your life as possible,” Young said. “Reach out to people if that will help you feel better. Get outside and enjoy nature if that’ll help you feel better. Just because you’re dealing through a difficult time doesn’t mean that you have to hide away and not have joy as well.”

A lot of stress can not only stem from the high expectations we place on ourselves, but also the expectations piled on because of social media. Young said it is important to talk about the pressure that you may be feeling because it’s likely others feel the same.

“What we see when we get on social media is a particular image that most people like to present and that presentation tends to be one where things look pretty perfect. And the reality is the world that we live in is no so perfect and most people are truly struggling in one way or another,” Young said. “So sometimes if we don’t talk about it and just look at the things we see around us we think we are isolated and alone in our struggles.”

This is also the second Christmas clouded by Covid-19. In a world full of uncertainty, Young said to try to “make the most of the holiday season even when a lot of things are out of our control.”

If you notice that your friend or loved on is struggling, one of the best things you can do is just listen.

“I think one of the best things you can do to support a loved one during the holidays is to be there and to listen,” she said. “A lot of times there’s not necessarily the right words to say or the perfect thing to say or do, but one thing we can do is all truly listen and be there for somebody if they need to talk.”

You can also ask that person who is struggling what you can do to make the holiday season as joyful as possible for them.

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