Stress and depression are frequent uninvited visitors during the Holiday season, a period beginning around Thanksgiving (November) lasting until the New Year (January). Which makes sense. The duties around the holidays can be overwhelming; the cooking, shopping, baking, cleaning, and entertaining can be exhausting. The plans and expectations of the holiday season place many of us under extra stress including the experience of tension, depression, sadness, or anxiety.
The truth is that if you feel down during this season, you are not alone because many people express heightened mental illness and stress during holidays. Research from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) shows that 64% of people with mental health issues have their cases worsen during holidays. However, you may reduce the stress that comes with the holidays by following some useful advice.
How to Support Mental Health in the Black Community During The Holidays?
It's challenging to pause and regroup when stress levels are at their highest. If the holidays have caused you emotional harm in the past, you may be particularly invested in attempts to avoid stress, anxiety, and depression altogether. While nothing can guarantee that you won’t experience negative feelings during the holidays, measures can be implemented to help you to stay mentally well during the holidays. Read closely.
10 Tools for Better Mental Health in the Black Community
Eat, Sleep, and Drink
Remembering to take care of your basic living needs is the first line of defense when you feel off balance. Making a few adjustments could provide huge benefits towards managing your depression or anxiety.
Recognize your emotions
Acknowledge that all feelings are valid and have an appropriate place in your experience.It’s possible that you may feel sadness or grief during this time. It's acceptable to take some time to sob or vent your emotions. You may also experience stress. Remember, just because it's the holiday season doesn't give you the responsibility to make yourself joyful.
Balance obligations with free time
When you are absolutely unable to refuse a request, try to remove other items from your schedule to offset time spent at events. Remember to create the time that you need for yourself and commit to keeping appointments with yourself.
Ask for Help
Why have a support network if you don’t use it? We were never designed to do all of the things, which is why we live in communities. Find relief by enlisting those close to you to assist with various tasks. If you ask for help and someone thinks you are weak, reevaluate the relationship, not your needs. It is also alright to enlist the support of a therapist so that you always have someone to lean on that can give guidance during the holidays.
Holidays don't need to be flawless or identical to last year. Traditions and rituals frequently evolve along with families as they expand and change. Hold onto a select few while remaining open to forming new ones.
Maintain a budget
Determine how much money you can spend before going out to buy food and gifts. Then follow your spending plan. Avoid trying to purchase happiness with a barrage of presents. You may also consider alternatives to purchasing gifts such as giving to charity, making handcrafted gifts, or starting a holiday gift exchange with the family.
Say “no” more often
Saying yes when you ought to say no can make you overburdened and lead to feelings of resentment. Your friends and coworkers will be sympathetic if you are unable to take part in every project or activity.
Similar to saying no, it is important to communicate limits to others in order to protect your personal space. Set boundaries that allow you the space to be accountable for your own emotional and psychological health.
Take a moment to pause
Give yourself some alone time. Find a hobby you like to do. Go alone and take a rest. Even 15 minutes of uninterrupted time alone could provide you the energy you need to complete your tasks. Find something that relaxes you, slows your breathing, and helps you feel peaceful inside. Some possibilities include zoning out while listening to music, taking a mindful walk.
Have an exit plan
When all else fails, don’t force yourself to stay in situations that create distress or discomfort. Make a plan that helps you recognize when you’ve reached your limit and how you will remove yourself from unhelpful situations.
In the end, you might find that you enjoy the holidays more than you anticipated.
NOTE: Serious mental health issues might require professional attention. Those experiencing intense, overpowering feelings or thoughts of harm to themselves or others including suicide should reach out for immediate assistance.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Simply dial 9-8-8 from any phone anywhere in the United States to be connected to a local crisis center based on the caller's area code.
Start Therapy in Atlanta for Your Mental Health
You do not have to go through the holidays struggling with your mental health. Whether it is stress, anxiety, or depression you can get support from an Atlanta therapist. You can start counseling either in person at our Atlanta-based therapy practice or virtually through online therapy in Georgia. Allowing you to get support even if you have to travel for the holidays. Follow these steps to get started:
- Contact us today to speak with a caring staff member
- Start getting therapy that is tailored to mental health in the black community
- Feel better throughout the holidays
Other Therapy Services at Simplicity Psychotherapy in Atlanta, GA
We offer a variety of relationship and individual therapy for black women and black men. That includes premarital counseling, couples therapy, and marriage counseling. As well as substance use counseling, LGBTQIA therapy, and sliding scale therapy.
About the Author
Rayvéne is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Master Addiction Counselor in Smyrna, GA (just outside Atlanta.)
Empowering you to remove the mask of other people’s expectations and have the Audacity to be yourself.
Encouraging you to connect with your identity and ignore the noise of other’s opinions and expectations. I help support mental health in the black community in Atlanta.
LGBTQAI affirming therapist and ally. Many clients are professionals who are seeking balance and relief from stressors of success. Learn more about Rayvene's services.
Note: While the information above is intended to provide insight as you begin your journey they are not intended to replace the guidance of a trained professional. Exploring these concerns in the presence of a licensed counselor or other licensed professional may provide deeper insight and assist in managing more multifaceted concerns that may arise.