By Brady Umfleet
For many of us, the holiday season is a wonderful time, spent with friends and family. We give thanks, celebrate our faith, and usher in a new year.
However, the holiday season is when we see an increase in stress and mental health challenges even for the most resilient of us. We may mourn for loved ones, think of our own mortality, struggle to meet financial, social, and other holiday expectations, or face a new year with uncertainty.
Some ways we can reduce our stress and other mental health challenges are to first acknowledge feelings and stress you are experiencing – it is okay to express to others how you are feeling. Reach out to your support system such as family, friends, and spiritual community and let them know how you are feeling.
It may be tempting to bunker down in your home and binge watch your favorite show. However, do take time to get out and experience activities that make you happy, even running down to your favorite café or lunch spot for an hour or so can reduce your feelings of sadness.
Thankfully, in sunny California, we do not experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) much, so we can go for short walks that will help us reduce our stress. Other techniques to cope with the holiday season are to get good sleep, eat healthy meals, practice deep breathing, make a gratitude or success list, or participate in a generative activity, such has researching your family history.
There are some excellent resources for self-care activities available on the Catholic Charities website: CatholicCharitiesSCC.org/behavioral-health.
Lastly, if you experiencing feelings and thoughts that may put you and others at risk, please call County of Santa Clara’s Behavioral Health Services Call Center, which is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week (800) 704-0900.
Brady Umfleet is the Division Director of Behavioral Health Services for Catholic Charities.