The holiday season isn’t like a magical TV movie. In the real world, the holidays can be challenging, especially if you’re living with mental illness.

ome aspects of the holidays that can be particularly difficult when you are facing any type of mental health challenge include:

  • Dealing with unwanted advice from people you hardly know
  • Feeling overwhelmed by large numbers of people at gatherings
  • Confronting triggers like food, alcohol, and toxic or abusive family members
  • Increased anxiety

Whatever you are struggling with during the holiday season, here are some ways to deal with it.

  • Come up with a few brief lines ahead of time so you can respond to unwanted comments calmly and neutrally. Try something like, “Just knowing I have your support is helpful.”
  • Pick and choose where you’ll go and with whom you’ll spend time.
  • Give yourself permission to leave gatherings before you are overwhelmed.
  • Regularly practice deep breathing and mindfulness to calm anxiety and stress.
  • Give yourself permission to spend time alone, and balance that with tolerable holiday festivities.