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Nurturing Mental Wellness: Navigating the Holiday Break with Care

Nurturing Mental Wellness: Navigating the Holiday Break with Care
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Written by Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger

As we gather with family and friends during the holiday break, visions of warmth and joy may clash with the reality of stress and depression for some. The season, filled with overwhelming demands and expectations, can take a toll on mental well-being, leading many to suffer in silence. Here are some common situations around the holidays and some suggestions on how to navigate them.

Acknowledging the Holiday Struggle:

The holidays can be challenging for many, as changes to routines and social expectations create anxiety. Balancing the hustle and bustle of shopping, caring for children and elderly parents, and managing overwhelming demands contribute to stress and depression.

Family Struggles:

Families do their best, but some may find it challenging to provide enough food during the break. Financial disparities play a role, and this year’s inflation adds to the burden. Overspending during the holidays can lead to lasting stress, pushing people into debt that lingers well into the new year.

Loneliness and Support Systems:

The season often separates individuals from their daily support systems and friends, exacerbating feelings of isolation. Loneliness can intensify during the holidays, impacting mental health.

Managing Expectations:

The weight of societal expectations around the holidays contributes significantly to stress. Financial constraints can limit extravagant gift-giving, making it crucial to focus on celebrating together and showing affection through presence, engagement, and support.

Financial Strain and Coping Strategies:

Recognizing diverse financial abilities, it is essential to avoid overspending. Consider alternatives such as Secret Santa or homemade gifts to foster meaningful connections without financial strain.

Support Strategies:

To support those struggling during the holidays:

  • Be mindful of others’ discomfort, giving them space without forcing expectations.
  • Acknowledge and honor the grief of those missing loved ones by celebrating their life stories with family and friends.
  • Prioritize joy and emotional recharge, simplifying and saying no to prevent burnout.
  • Maintain therapy sessions, especially during challenging times, and explore virtual options if needed.
Self-Care and Mindfulness:

Managing mental health during the holidays requires intentional self-care. Establishing boundaries, maintaining routines, getting enough rest, connecting with friends, and incorporating mindfulness practices can significantly contribute to well-being.

Seeking Help:

Remember, managing mental illness is a shared challenge, and seeking support from friends, family, and mental health professionals is a strength. If therapy is part of your routine, prioritize it, even during the holiday season.


Navigating the holiday break with care involves recognizing the challenges, supporting one another, and prioritizing mental well-being. By fostering understanding and implementing thoughtful strategies, we can create a holiday season that truly embodies the spirit of joy and connection for everyone.