The holidays present intense emotions and feelings, memories, and expectations. Unfortunately, these times can trigger mental health issues and divulge undiagnosed mental illness. Parents struggle with treatment decisions for their children, no matter how old they are. Is it better to start treatment during the holiday season, or how do they maintain mental health during the holidays? These are valid concerns to investigate.
Parents Need to Maintain Mental Health in the Holiday Season
Holidays are overwhelming. Being a parent of a teen or young adult experiencing mental health issues can be taxing. Fear of making the wrong treatment decisions for your child is staggering. Therefore, it is essential to be present in the moment and concentrate on your mental health during the holidays.
Five tips for maintaining your mental health during the holidays can include the following suggestions:
- Breathe: Slow deep breaths can alleviate anxiety and pressure. Take a few moments to quiet yourself with deep breathing techniques. Deep, slow breathing is a great teaching technique for children, teens, and young adults. Feel the calming effects, and the tension leaves your body. Breathe to ensure good mental health during the holidays.
- Choose: Prioritize and pick your fights. First, decide on paper what task gets the highest priority. Then, schedule a break in the day to do something for yourself. Finally, don’t sweat the small stuff, and try to shrug off the occasional bump in the road. Monitoring your mental health during the holidays is a sign of self-awareness.
- Exercise: The best way to take care of everyone else is to take care of yourself first. Take a short walk, make some quick yoga moves, or do twenty jumping jacks. Exercise produces those feel-good hormones and endorphins to maintain good mental health during the holidays.
- Connect: Plan to make the connections you are longing for. The holidays are hectic. Try to keep your schedule manageable. Only make plans when there is an opening on the agenda. Do not self-sabotage by trying to do too much. Stay connected to maintain mental health during the holidays.
- Gratitude: List three or four things you are grateful for every day. Focus on positive and healthy things to be thankful for.
Maintaining your Child’s Mental Health During the Holidays
The holiday season is stressful for kids as well as adults. Therefore, parents must be observant, lead an excellent example with positive coping mechanisms, and keep order and peace. For example, watching how the family interacts, how emotions and feelings are processed, and asking questions if you think there could be a problem. Monitoring your child’s mental health during the holidays is a big job. Here are some helpful hints to keep calm and peace within your household.
- Reduce stress: When parents keep their stress levels baseline, the kids follow suit. However, uncertainty breeds worry and anxiety, so discuss planned activities with family and friends ahead of time. Stay connected and communicate your expectations to help the kids maintain good mental health during this time.
- Offer tools to work through stress and anxiety: The same tools we use as adults can be helpful for kids. Deep breathing techniques are practical for regrouping. Offering a journal to write down emotions, feelings, and experiences is therapeutic. Self-care is fun for sons and daughters – offer a haircut or manicure.
- Keep the household routine: Everyone thrives with continuity and order. So mealtimes need to be predictable, and school schedules and bedtimes need to be business as usual. Consistency can maintain order and peace by monitoring the kids’ mental health during the holidays.
- Prepare everyone for friends and family times: Remind the entire family of the holiday visitor schedules. Prepare with dress codes and expectations. Outline the agenda for all activities and what they will entail.
- Rest: Everyone needs downtime to nap, listen to music, or watch a movie. Make sure everyone has the time that they need. Eating a balanced diet and having a regular sleep schedule ensures good mental health during the holidays.
- Have Fun: Laugh, sing and be silly. Be in a good mood. Communicate. Ask the kids what they want to do.
Mental Health Warning Signs During the Holidays
Emergencies, stressful meltdowns, and depression and anxiety do not disappear during the holidays. Troubles can happen, so parents need to watch for red flags. For example, teens or young adults struggling may be hesitant to speak up because it’s holiday time. Monitoring mental health during the holidays could include identifying behaviors that speak volumes.
Isolation or Withdrawing. Watch for depression in your child by noticing the extra alone time they may be using. Mental health troubles can prevent them from communicating or participating with the family. The following self-isolating behaviors are red flags to address immediately,
- Being neglectful with self-care, not showering, combing hair, dressing in the same clothes for days
- Lack of motivation, desire, or enthusiasm shows the possibility of depression.
- Does not want to spend time with friends
- Watches television or plays on the phone or video games for hours
- Excessive sleeping
Changes in Behavior. Kids can be transparent, but you can only notice something if you watch for issues. Is there a crisis going on, and you aren’t seeing it? Help is available if needed for mental health during the holidays. The following behavior changes could be red flags.
- Being dramatically defensive when asked questions
- Resisting normal requests
- Acting out with agitation or defiance
- Seeming overly sad
- Extreme mood swings
Signs of Depression or Anxiety. Depression and anxiety are common factors to consider in checking mental health during the holidays. Counselors and therapists are available quite often during the holidays. It might be possible that a visit with a therapist could turn things around. However, these physical signs of depression and anxiety might need further investigation.
- Upset stomach or stomach pains
- Feeling very tired all the time
- General aches and pains with no reason
- Extreme changes in appetite
- Headaches or Migraines
Find Help for Maintaining Mental Health During the Holidays in California
Riviera Recovery understands that teens or young adults struggle with mental health during the holidays. Our staff offers help to parents and families with a diverse schedule of programs that address many needs. Contact us today to discuss your thoughts and concerns.