While this time of year brings a smile to the faces of many, others struggle to simply get through the holidays with their mental health intact.
The season has a tendency to bring up sad memories, sparking depression and anxiety. Meeting expectations to spend time with sometimes fractured families, and trying to maintain good cheer can be stressful, as can financial worries.
In fact one in five Canadians experience mental health issues at one point or another, meaning odds are someone sitting around your Christmas dinner table is struggling to some degree with the season.
A number of programs exist to help. For example, Rev. Michelle Slater runs a series of sessions at Oak Bay United Church leading up to Christmas, aimed at centring both youth and adults in a hectic time. She says it’s a chance to catch your breath, get grounded, breathe in some peace and remind yourself of what the mystery of Christmas really is for you and for the people you love.
Some of us prefer the simpler joys, such as a bundled walk overlooking the water, taking in the joy of other people’s (well behaved) dogs along Dallas Road.
The Canadian Mental Health Association offers tips to help people get through the holiday season. They recommend planning ahead, staying within a budget, learning stress-busting skills and other strategies to approach the season with as much ease as possible.
Those with active mental health issues may not be in a place, emotionally or mentally, to carry out these actions.
We encourage you to take time now for yourself, but also to think about how others might be struggling with the holidays. Ask what you can do for family and strangers or anyone having a hard time with the season.
Don’t forget to listen for the answer – sometimes it’s as simple as taking the time to show that you care.