Unwrapping Mental Health during the Christmas Season
Written by: Pansiluni Hasanjana Weerawansa
The holiday season is a mesmerising dance of glittering lights, festive melodies, and exotic decorations. It’s the time when even the grumpiest Scrooge can’t help but crack a smile. Beneath the twinkling lights and joyous laughter, there exists a less talked-about aspect of the season: the mental health challenges that can accompany the holidays.
Imagine a world where the resounding echoes of “Don’t be a Grinch!” linger like a faint melody in the background, emphasising the societal pressure to conform to a predetermined festive euphoria.
Pressure to be Jolly
The pressure to be jolly and get into the festive season begins as decorations adorn every corner. There’s an unsaid expectation for everyone to be jolly during the Christmas season. The pressure to maintain a facade of perpetual happiness can become a heavy burden, especially for those grappling with mental health issues. Sometimes we can often hear people saying ‘Oh don’t be a Grinch!’ as the notion of this conventional ‘festive mood’ is deeply rooted in many.
For some, the Christmas season serves as a stark reminder of what once was or what could have been. Memories of lost loved ones, broken relationships, health issues as well as difficult times may resurface. These recollections cast a shadow over the twinkling lights, intensifying the notes of loneliness and sadness that dance in the periphery of the holiday cheer. In a world fixated on the celebration of joy, these hushed, subdued undertones often go unnoticed but can resonate deeply within the hearts of those grappling with the painful festive memories from years ago.Top of Form
The cost of Christmas can also contribute largely to mental health struggles. Modern society has transformed the Christmas season into a culture of excessive purchasing, turning it into a trend where people feel compelled to over purchase decorations, festive items, and gifts. The prevailing notion is that without these acquisitions, individuals believe they cannot truly immerse themselves in the festive spirit. The financial strain associated with gift-giving, elaborate feasts, and festive decorations can create stress and anxiety, particularly for those on a tight budget. Especially with the inflation in the country this can cause distress among many. The fear of not meeting societal expectations can lead to feelings of inadequacy and disappointment.
Social media often paints a picture-perfect image of Christmas celebrations through addicting reels, posts and so on, exacerbating the gap between expectations and reality. Comparing one’s own holiday experience to the highly curated, edited and seemingly flawless photos shared online can breed feelings of inadequacy and isolation.
Acknowledging and addressing mental health challenges during the Christmas season is crucial. Here are some strategies to help navigate the emotional rollercoaster of the festive season:
- Encourage open conversations with friends and family about mental health. Sharing feelings and concerns can alleviate the sense of isolation.
- Embrace imperfections and set realistic expectations. Keep in mind that a true holiday doesn’t require perfection but rather genuine moments of connection.
- Establish a budget for holiday expenses to prevent financial strain. Consider thoughtful, budget-friendly gifts or explore creative alternatives like DIY presents. Be mindful not to splurge too much on gifts which will cause any financial strain out of fear of being left out or embarrassed.
- Prioritise self-care during the holiday hustle. Whether it’s taking a quiet walk, meditating, yoga, enjoying a hot bath, or indulging in a favourite book, make time for activities that bring peace and relaxation.
- Most importantly, if the holiday season intensifies feelings of sadness or loneliness, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists, counsellors, and support groups can offer valuable assistance and are easily accessible.
The true spirit of Christmas lies in the connections we forge and the compassion we extend to ourselves and others.