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The way the Holidays affects our Mental Health

Introduction 

The holidays for some people are a cheerful time of family gatherings, way too much food and traditional festivities. It is also one of the most stressful times of year for those exact same reasons. Social pressures and expectations for the holiday season can induce stress in any person, with those suffering from mental health illnesses or disorders at greater risk for crisis, substance abuse and other concerns. This blog will cover the good, the bad and the ugly side of the holiday season. 

The Good

For each person the positives of the holiday season will be different depending on your motives. If you are religious the holidays are less about materialism, and more about prayer, worship and giving thanks. Which has been proven to be less stressful than the planning, shopping and social gatherings associated with more modern traditions of materialism. Despite these two very drastic differences the holiday season has proven to reduce loneliness and social well-being provided one is being included in rituals and festivities.  

The Bad 

As previously mentioned the true struggles of the holidays comes from the social pressures and personal expectations that stem from materialism. Who will have the best decorations, the most gifts or who will throw the best holiday dinner. All these things are very demanding and detrimental to our well-being. Feeling like you are not able to provide the best experience for your loved ones can be emotionally draining. Not to mention the financial hardship these expectations can put on people. Not everyone is equipped with the same financial stabilities of others and can increase the feelings of inadequacy. 

Conclusion

It’s been almost two years of pandemic life due to COVID-19. Many people are excited to host holiday gatherings and take part in festivities but it’s important to remember how the pandemic has affected us all. Generally speaking the pandemic has made people more socially anxious, so when inviting your loved ones this year remember to keep expectations low with high understanding of others situations and circumstances. 

 

About the Author 

Dr. Sanjay Rao is an experienced teacher and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa. In 2018, he was awarded a Fellowship of the Canadian Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for his contribution to CBT in Canada. He has received an award from the Department of Health, UK for CBT development. He is the Director of Unified CBT Academy and the Medical Director at the Center for  Mental & Psychological Health.  To find out more about Dr. Rao you can review his profile.

 

 

 

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