Holidays can be tough for people with mental illness

The holidays are meant to be filled with joy, but it can also be stressful and difficult for those struggling with mental illness.

A study by the National Alliance of Mental Illness found that 64% of people with mental illness report that vacations make their condition worse.

“For a lot of people, the holiday season isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year,” said NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth.

Holidays can make people’s mental illness worse due to the potential loneliness and stress.

“For individuals and families dealing with mental health issues, the holiday season can be a time of loneliness or stress, filled with anxiety and / or depression. If they are living with a mental health issue, stress can also contribute to the worsening of symptoms, ”said Jennifer Carlsen, student support clinician at Turlock Unified School District, referring to the study.

For example: in schizophrenia, it can promote hallucinations and delusions; in bipolar disorder, it can trigger episodes of mania and depression. In addition to the holiday season, the COVID-19 crisis has made maintaining mental health more difficult for so many people.

Carlsen and the rest of the supporting clinicians used the study to provide the TUSD community with tips for coping with mental health during the holiday season.

Understanding what can trigger someone allows them to take action to avoid situations that will cause additional mental stress. These could be activities such as buying Christmas presents or cooking a family dinner. In these stressful times, it’s important to remember what someone is grateful for and to thank those who supported them.

· Exercising daily can be an important way to relax, as exercise releases stress-relieving hormones in your body and improves your overall physical health. Eating habits are challenged during the holiday season, but it’s important to maintain a healthy diet. Eating well can stabilize someone’s mood.

· Setting aside time and doing enjoyable activities can help relieve other stresses. Volunteering provides a lot of comfort for people and can help them feel less alone and more connected to the community.

Above all, if someone feels their mental health is deteriorating, it is important to find support, among family, friends, counselors and support groups. For free mental health information, referrals and support persons can call the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-6264.

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