South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) has provided coping methods for those who are alone as the holiday season begins, with many people sharing their excitement about spending time with family and friends.
Christina Pereira, Clinical Psychologist details how this affects mental health, further detailing ways of coping during this time.
“For those of us who have had a difficult time with our mental health over the year or in general, it can be challenging to try and fabricate a sense of Christmas or seasonal cheer that we see in others. The pressure and the comparison lead us to believe that we are somehow lesser than others, or that we will never be able to access that kind of spirit. The reality is that it is always okay not to be okay, even during the festive season.
“Taking things at our own pace is important. Reaching out when we’re feeling low, anxious or are otherwise not in a good space is the perfect way to connect with others without having to feel like we have to ‘fake it’.”
Pereira further says factors like a jubilant festive mood, family tensions, and financial pressures may trigger excessive use of substances over the holidays.
She points out that it is necessary to address this proactively, fostering awareness, support, and healthier coping mechanisms.
Having open discussions and promoting safe, alternative ways to manage stress and emotions during the holidays is key.
She also shares tips one can use to help manage festive temptations:
Bring a friend who does not use substances to the party for support. Carry your own non-alcoholic drinks. Come with your own transport so that you can leave whenever you want or need to.
Have a reason to leave a gathering when you need to:
Coping with loss
The holidays often emphasise togetherness, joy, and celebrations, which can intensify feelings of loss for those who are grieving.
Support is crucial for those experiencing grief during the festive season.
“Protecting your mental health during the festive season is essential. Remember, it's okay not to feel festive or cheerful all the time during this season. Prioritising your mental health is important.”