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Maintaining Your Mental Health During the Holidays

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Maintaining Your Mental Health During the Holidays


The holidays can be a joy-filled season, but they can also be stressful and especially challenging for those impacted by mental illness.


A NAMI study (National Alliance on Mental Illness) showed that 64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse. “For many people the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year,” said NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth (in an interview before the pandemic). For individuals and families coping with mental health challenges, the holiday season can be a lonely or stressful time, filled with anxiety and/or depression. If you’re living with a mental health condition, stress can also contribute to worsening symptoms.


How To Cope With Negative Holiday Emotions

The Change Triangle is the guide used to help work with emotions and the ways we avoid them. To “work the triangle” the steps include:

  • Identifying what you are experiencing

  • Pausing to breathe and calm yourself

  • Naming the core emotions you are feeling in that moment

  • Listening (without judgment) to what your emotions are telling you

  • Thinking through how to move forward

Instead of suppressing core emotions, like anger and sadness, which when invalidated worsen anxiety and depression, the Change Triangle shows us how to identify and be with our emotions so we stay connected to ourselves.

Don’t worry about how things should be. “There’s a lot of cultural pressure during the holidays,” said Duckworth. “We tend to compare ourselves with these idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays.” But remember, those other families doubtlessly have their own stressors and ruminations to contend with.

Make sure that the “holiday blues” haven’t become a scapegoat. You could be experiencing Recurrent Depression with Seasonal Pattern (previously known as Seasonal Affective Disorder) or another biological or psychological cause. If these are persistent feelings, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

Overall, Duckworth said, “this is not an easy time of year for a lot of people. Be gentle with yourself.”

Campbell County Health Behavioral Health Services is here for you during this holiday season. Mental health services and counseling is available. If you or someone you love is in crisis, please call 307.688.5555 or call/ text 988.

Resources to help handle holiday stress and anxiety: Managing Your Mental Health During the Holidays | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness


Maintaining Mental Health During the Holiday Season (and a Pandemic) - NAMI California

Beat Back the Holiday Blues | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Surviving Painful Holiday Emotions | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

  • Category: Behavioral Health Services, CCH News, CCMG News, CCMH News, Health News