ASK JANICE Special: Tips For Mental Wellness During The Holidays 2021


Another holiday season has arrived, and for the second year in a row, our nation faces rising COVID cases. If you’re anything like me, the holidays, in a good year, can be stressful. But during a pandemic? I don’t know about y’all, but these rising COVID numbers have me SHOOK!

This year, we also have high inflation. So, we’re spending more to meet even our most basic needs, while many of us continue to struggle financially. Plus, supply-chain disruptions and staff shortages mean empty shelves in stores and longer waits to get the things we order online. It’s a mess!

As someone who fights hard to maintain both my physical and mental health, I’m trying to be proactive this year when it comes to managing my holiday-induced anxiety and depression. Because sharing is caring, I’ve come up with a few suggestions on how you can navigate the season with your mental wellness relatively intact.

Here they are:

  1. Tweak or Re-Up Your Meds: If medication is part of your mental wellness regimen, this holiday season is not the time to run out or continue using ineffective meds. Talk to your medical team NOW if you need refills and get those scripts filled ASAP. Or, if you’ve noticed your current meds are no longer effective, talk to your team about tweaking the dosages. Bottom line is you want to make sure you have everything you need before your medical team goes on vacation. You don’t want to have to wait until after the New Year to get your meds right.
  2. Plan for your Therapist’s Vacation: Work with your therapist to come up with a plan for you during their vacation. Is there a backup person you can call if you go into crisis while your therapist is gone? Can you sneak in an extra session before they leave? Just make sure you have a plan in place ahead of time.
  3. Alert Your Support Network: If you have trusted friends or family who’ve supported you well on your mental wellness journey, you need to keep them in the loop during the holiday season. Remind them of your struggles and let them know your concerns. Suggest clear and concrete ways they can help you in a crisis. Be honest with them and keep the lines of communication open. Having wellness allies to help you cope will make things a lot easier for you.
  4. Watch Your Diet and Alcohol intake: We all tend to over-indulge during the holidays. But we all also know what we put into our bodies deeply affects our mental health. Instead of viewing the holidays as a chance to “let go” and throw out your meal plans, recognize that your health is more important than a few hours of fun. I’m not telling you to abstain. Y’all are grown. I’m just suggesting that you indulge in moderation and remember what’s at stake. No, a slice of sweet potato pie won’t kill you, but SIX slices may affect your mood. Toasting in the New Year with a little champagne is fine, but more than that may adversely interact with your medications. In other words, have fun, but don’t go crazy (pun intended).
  5. Don’t Over Plan Your Time: You don’t have to accept every holiday party invitation, Girl. It’s okay to politely decline. You can use COVID as your excuse, but honestly, you probably shouldn’t be hanging out all that much, anyway. We’re still in this pandemic and it’s not really safe to socialize the way we used to. Besides, over planning will definitely increase your stress and anxiety. So be prudent and scale back all those big holidays plans you’re making. It’s what’s best for you both physically and mentally.
  6. Be Sure to Rest: This is obviously closely related to number 5 above. Even if we’re lucky enough to get time off work at this time of the year, we often run ourselves ragged with holiday preparations, parties, shopping, and planning. But lack of sleep and exhaustion usually exacerbate mental illness. Your body and mind need rest, Sis. So be very stingy with how you spend your time, and make sure you schedule enough time for you to just chill. Yes, get your sleep. But also, make sure you spend some of your awake time doing absolutely nothing productive. Do some binge watching or catch up on your reading. Whatever it is you do to relax and escape from reality, do it! Rest and relaxation are necessary for good mental health.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. I’d love to hear from you, though. Do you have any suggestions to add? How are you managing your mental wellness this season? Comment below and let us know.

In the meantime, I hope you have a safe, healthy, and prosperous Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year! Happy Holidays!