Do you get stressed out during the holidays?
- Spending time with difficult family members.
- Being asked to attend numerous social functions which stretches your social anxiety, energy level, money management and time management
- Christmas shopping in a manic state while having difficulties exhibiting self-control.
- Feeling empty and lonely because of the loss of a loved one.
These are just a few examples of triggers that may set someone off with bipolar during the holidays. The stress of these triggers can have an effect on relationships, health, job performance and self-esteem. If we want to deal with holiday stress, we need to have some ideas of how we can face these triggers head-on.
Ways of Dealing with Holiday Stress
Get plenty of rest. If you have been a bit grouchy, look at the amount of time you are sleeping. Your body needs time to do countless system checks while you are resting your body at night. Being hyped on caffeine or manic can interrupt sleep. Do you need to add time at night or add time in the morning? Just sleeping for thirty minutes or an hour more can do wonders for your mood, memory and concentration.
Take time for yourself. It is not selfish to take a break from life to go watch your favorite movie or hang out at your favorite coffee shop. It is okay to do something fun amidst the holiday stress to diminish the size of the triggers. Doing something for yourself will also get your mind off of the stress for a while. It will put you in a better place to handle the stressor. When I take time alone, I can quiet the rest of the world and listen to what God has to say about the stressful situation. After spending time with Him, I have a clearer idea what needs to be done in the situation.
Spend time with friends. It is important to have friends in your circle who understand your mental illness. They are able to share in your experiences and may offer advice from their own wisdom. My life is far richer because of the friends I have in it. I feel loved and accepted.
Stay connected to your psychiatrist and therapist. From November to December, psychiatrists and therapists offices tend to get busy. The provider may go out of town for an extended period of time and so is unavailable to work you into their schedule. Either plan ahead with a pre-scheduled appointment before the holidays or just after. If you are not able to see your regular psychiatrist or therapist, you might be willing to go to another provider in the same practice.
Get moving. Schedule some exercise during the holidays. Even if it is walking through the mall or down the block in your neighborhood — that is better than nothing. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain that help you feel good. If you are stressed out at work, take a walk out to your car. Stressed out at the family dinner? Take a walk two houses down and back.
I have included links below to share more ideas on dealing with holiday stress.