Struggling Amid Celebrations: 4 Signs that Indicate Support is Needed
Cultural and religious holidays and end-of-year celebrations often include symbolic rituals, food and/ or gifts, remembrance, and reflection. Celebrations promote fostering connections and build resilience among families and communities. Holidays can deepen spirituality, honor historical and cultural traditions, increase feelings of belonging/ family-community connection, and celebrate shared values.
The holidays can also be triggering for many folks. Even those who feel pretty good physically and emotionally can find that this time of year is more taxing on their mental health. It is important to check in with yourself and pay attention to signs that indicate additional support is needed.
Feelings of Sadness & Depression:
If you are feeling sad or depressed this time of year, are noticing a decreased desire to socialize or celebrate, and are noticing any of the following symptoms, then you may be struggling with symptoms of depression. It is important to address changes in eating, sleeping, or eating patterns, changes in energy level or concentration, struggles with self-esteem, and possibly thoughts of suicide. Therapy is an effective option and medications are also available, if needed. The 988-suicide prevention lifeline is available 24/7.
Feeling Lonely/ Social Isolation:
Do you find yourself feeling lonely and isolated despite being around other people? Perhaps you are struggling in your relationships and feeling more disconnected than connected. Are you living alone or separated from loved ones this holiday season? These experiences can be challenging to navigate. Often expectations do not match reality and only contribute to greater disappointment. When you find yourself isolated and experiencing loneliness, that is the time to reach out and get connected to support.
Experience of Trauma/ Stressors
The holidays may bring unpleasant memories and be emotionally triggering. If you have experienced abuse or neglect within your family, the holidays may be especially painful for those living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Substance use may be prevalent within families this time of year, creating more vulnerable situations for potential abuse, neglect, or intimate partner violence. Working with a therapist now can assist you with creating a cope-ahead plan to help you feel safe and grounded.
Heightened Worries/ Anxiety
Many people worry about things such as family, friends, work, and finances this time of year. Caretakers and planners are prone to burnout. The logistics of planning, traveling, and social pressures can be overwhelming. Did you know that these are very common concerns for those who seek therapy? Perhaps you may need some short-term support to cope with anxiety or are seeking longer-term support as you implement and maintain practices for anxiety management.
This holiday season, I encourage you to seek meaningful community within families, friendships, and extended social support. I encourage you to gather in person or connect through technology. It feels good to do something meaningful for others while also doing something for yourself. If you are lacking connection and/ or struggling with any of the areas above, consider talking to a therapist to experience connection as defined by Brene Brown.
Connection: “The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they can derive sustenance and strength from the relationship”. –Brene Brown
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC