(Need context for this post? Check out the introductory post for this series.)
I don’t think I’m out of line suggesting that populations of creative people tend to have higher numbers of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Often it’s the pain of these challenges that turns us to creative work in the first place. Of course the stress and chaos of the holidays can exacerbate mental health concerns and turn the whole season into a burden for anyone with mental and emotional issues. You’re not alone and you can survive. I’m speaking from experience, in case you can’t tell.
1. Scale back or skip it – If you aren’t up to any or all of the obligations of the holiday season, scale back on what you commit to and do only what you can. Again, you don’t owe anyone an explanation, but it can be really helpful to say something like, “it’s been a tough year for me, and I’m just not up to it” or “things are sort of difficult for me right now, I’m only doing a few things this year.”
2. Do something nice for someone else – Getting out of your own head and helping someone else can take your focus off of your own issues for a bit. Animal shelters, women’s shelters, community assistance organizations, food pantries, and other non-profits need resources year-round but especially look for help during the holidays. Maybe you’re not up to full-blown volunteering, but gathering up food and bedding for homeless pups or toiletries for women in crisis can give you an emotional boost.
3. Focus on what is comforting – Even if you wish the holidays would just go away, there is a good chance that something about the season isn’t completely terrible. Narrow your attention and just focus on aspects of the holidays that you can manage. Maybe shopping and Christmas music makes you want to crawl in a hole but baking your grandma’s cookie recipe is a comfort. Then bake the cookies and forget the rest.
4. Get some help – Over the years, the holiday season for me has been a time for medication tinkering. I guess nothing reveals “my meds are no longer working” better than jingle bells and gingerbread lattes. If you are struggling, don’t go through it alone. Ask for help, make a doctor’s appointment, let a friend or family member know what’s up. The traditions of Christmahannukwanzadan are not nearly as important as your well-being.
Regardless of what your holiday challenges may be, know that you aren’t alone. And it’s not the end of the world if things don’t go right.
Whatever holidays you celebrate at the end of the year, may they be happy!
Interested in the other posts in this series?