Festivities can be a challenge or blessing during the holidays, particularly for individuals with mental illnesses. The impact of these occasions on this demographic could depend on the support of family members and dedication to positivity. Various specialists provided commentary on the mental health importance of holidays and the power of optimistic thinking during these times.
In a Psychology Today article titled “The importance of vacations to our physical and mental health,” Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., championed the importance of holidays away from work and other high-stress obligations. Whitbourne explained that sustained stress takes a toll on mental and physical health. This is especially true for the mentally ill, who often have to work harder to deal with the wear and tear of stress present in daily life.
Due to the mental and physical detriments of stress – such as decreased quality of sleep, anxiety and more – Whitbourne said that no one should feel guilty for enjoying his or her holidays, as these times are meant to shed negative emotions for a time.
In that vein, vacations and holidays do not mean as much if negativity and bad company rule the day. Positivity is a skill that grows with use and time. The holidays is a perfect time to show off this talent for the sake of tempering current mental health difficulties.
Loretta G. Breuning, Ph.D., recommended preparing positive topics to discuss during the holidays with family. She said the idea should involve optimistic observations concerning the whole gathering, not just any one individual. This spreads the joy of the occasion and sets a certain tone for the immediate future.
One of the opposites of happiness is anger, which is a waste of energy. Anger is meant to bring people together to take on shared threats, which heightens the stress of everyone in the room. Unite in happiness instead for relaxation.
The main focus of Breuning’s Psychology Today article “Ten Ways to Stay Positive During the Holidays” is making the effort to stay positive. She notes that new habits and behavioral goals reshape neural pathways in the brain, making happiness easier to achieve over time.
Counseling can help those with mental illnesses navigate their difficulties and find a new, more positive way forward in life.
White River Academy is a critical resource of residential treatment for young men aged 12 to 17 years old. Our staff help patients make critical changes in their lives for improved mental health in the long run. Call our 24/7 helpline to learn more.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz.