Maintaining your mental health over the holidays

Posted at 2:58 PM, Nov 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 09:07:15-05

MAGIC VALLEY, Idaho — While the holidays can bring cheer, they can also take a toll on mental health. This season, taking care of your well-being should be a top priority.

A study from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) showed that 64% of people with mental illness report that holidays make their conditions worse.

The holidays can be a complicated time for many, according to Dr. Paula Griffith, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at St. Lukes.

“Whether it contains anniversaries of difficulties in years past or honoring loved ones who may be are no longer with us it’s OK to have complicated feelings about the holidays but it’s important to reach out so that you don’t have to be alone in dealing with those,” said Griffith.

For many Idahoans, getting help can be difficult.

A study by NAMI showed that in February of 2021, 40% of adults in Idaho reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, and 24.7% were unable to get the counseling or therapy they needed.

For individuals needing someone to talk to, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is a resource for those needing someone to talk to, even if they aren’t having suicidal thoughts.

“If you feel like you’re in crisis yes you can use [Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline], or you can go to one of the various 24 hour crisis centers we have around the state. They are walk-in and they don’t require insurance,” said Mike Sandvig, President Emeritus and Board Member Of Nami Idaho.

These centers are free.

“Walk in and they can take care of you they can help you during that crisis and figure out if you need some additional resources,” said Sandvig.

As we make sure our needs are met this season, it is crucial to have sympathy for loved ones who may be struggling with their mental health as well.

“If you’re a family member of someone with a mental illness and you see that they are being triggered, you should help them and maybe try to take off those pressures… if you’re not sure exactly how to do that you can call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline,” said Sandvig.

The Harvard Medical School Affiliate, McLean, recommends that if you are dealing with loss or grief, remember that as circumstances change, traditions will change too. If you feel pressured to participate in activities you don’t want to be a part of, accept your limitations and be patient with others who may feel this way.

if you’re stressed about spending money buying gifts, opt for a Secret Santa exchange to reduce the amount of gifts needed, or let people know you aren’t able to give gifts this year.

Exercise, familiar routines, sunlight and taking part in activities that make you happy can be beneficial.

“This is the best time of year to remember all of the coping skills that you learn if you’re dealing with depression and anxiety, or some other mental illness,” said Sandvig.