Athlete Mental Health During the Holidays
The holidays can be a time of joy, exuberance, indulgence, and hope, but also a time of exhaustion, sadness, longing, and reflection. In my own life, there have been holiday seasons that have been more joyful than others. Last year, for example, was a difficult holiday season for me because there were changes in my familial situation. This year, I’ve decided to create new traditions to enjoy and so far it’s a mindset and an action that’s been really beneficial. Whereas last year my holiday season was riddled with feelings of anxiety and sadness, this year, I had one of my best Thanksgivings yet.
The reality for a lot of people is that the holidays make sad times even harder. When you’re coping with a loss, the holidays can make that void feel much larger. If you’re going through a hard time, the holidays can amplify your feelings, especially when everyone around you seems so happy and you feel even worse, or maybe guilty, that you’re unhappy. That’s why the phrase “holiday blues” exists. On one hand, there are people gathering to celebrate and on the other, there are people who are lost in their loneliness.
There’s no rule that says you have to be a picture-perfect blissful person during the holidays. If this is a difficult holiday season for you, I encourage you to do a few things to help ease the stress:
- Participate in the traditions that have made you happy in the past. For example, even if you don’t feel like decorating, maybe just put up a few of your favorite items.
- Do things that make you happy such as watching your favorite comedy movie. It doesn’t have to be a holiday movie or activity. Be present in your own kind of bliss.
- Be picky with your schedule. You don’t have to participate in every activity, but try to pick a couple that you will attend. Getting out of the house is a good thing! And on that note…
- Go to the gathering and excuse yourself early if you have to. It’s important to be around others. People need people. Getting out of the house can do wonders for your mood, even if it’s just for a short period of time. If you are extremely uncomfortable, it’s okay to excuse yourself to leave early, but at least give it a shot.
- If you have to participate in an activity or event, such as playing in a game, let someone on your team know that you’re having a hard time. Games can be a way to escape your reality but sometimes no matter how hard you try, you have to deal with what’s in front of you off the court or field. It’s okay to be distracted during a difficult time. You’re not a robot. Just make sure you communicate that with someone on your team.
- Talk to people. I am certain that there are people who will know exactly how you’re feeling or at least be an understanding and kind ear. Connecting with another person can be incredibly healing.
- Take it one day at a time. Every season happens one moment at a time.
Not every holiday season will be a perfectly joyful one and no one says it has to be. The most important thing you can do is listen to yourself and find a way to connect with people. The holidays are personal, not some mold of happiness you have to fit into.
Want to chat more? Contact me here.