Taking care of your mental health this holiday season

If you're struggling to feel jolly this Christmas, you're not alone.
If you're struggling to feel jolly this Christmas, you're not alone.(KBTX)
Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 2:19 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - For some people, this is not the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, have a strained relationship with your family, are spending the holiday season alone, or just feeling stressed out, it’s important to remember that you are not alone, and that you don’t need to feel pressured to be “merry and bright” when you don’t actually feel that way.

“We have to make space for those feelings we’re experiencing. There’s room for all of it. That’s what’s beautiful about being a human. We have a full spectrum of emotions. We have to identify and acknowledge those feelings,” Capri Wiggins, Licensed Clinician Social Worker at Brazos Valley Mental Health and Wellness, said. “We have to realize the impermanence of it. Just because we experience a negative emotion doesn’t mean that feeling is going to last. It’s there in that moment, and then we can take care of it.”

If you’re feeling anxious about being with family this Christmas, Wiggins says it’s crucial to set boundaries and focus on what’s in our control.

“What’s outside of our control is the personal questions that might be asked, the polarizing discussion that might come up, the comments on weight loss or weight gain. We don’t have control over what other people do, but we do have control over our responses.” Wiggins said. “‘That’s not something I want to talk about at Christmas,’” is a great way to avoid argument or uncomfortable conversations with family members who overstep boundaries you’ve set.”

She also reminds us to have empathy for our loved ones, because most of the time, even if they make us frustrated, they’re coming from a good place.

Even if you aren’t dealing with mental health issues, and you enjoy seeing your family, you might still find yourself feeling stressed this holiday season. As Wiggins can attest, it’s important to give yourself grace and partake in activities that make you feel relaxed and joyful.

“When we’re dealing with a friend who feels stressed out, we don’t tell them to suck it up, so I don’t know why we tell ourselves that. In the same way that we would take care of a friend, that’s the way we need to take care of ourselves,” said Wiggins.

As the holidays wrap-up and the new year approaches, Wiggins says it’s ok to release unrealistic expectations we have.

“We need to be in tune with how we’re feeling. If we’re tired, we need to rest. We’re always in this mindset of jumping from one thing to the next, but we really need to acknowledge our feelings and make more time to rest and decompress before we jump into the next thing,” said Wiggins.

She says it’s counterproductive that we are constantly moving from one thing to the next because we’re not able to give our full selves. Making time to rest and slow down is beneficial in the long-run.

“We’re more likely to achieve our goals in the new year if we’re well-rested and recharged,” said Higgins.

If you or a loved one are struggling, it’s important to reach out for help.

“There’s absolutely nothing shameful about seeking support, whether it’s from the people we know or from a professional.”

For the full interview with Capri Wiggins, LCSW, watch below:

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