The holidays are usually considered a time of joy and happiness.
However, for many, this is unfortunately not the case. Don’t get me wrong – I love the time off, I love spending time with my family, and I love the giving spirit that seems to be in the air. However, it’s also a time in which I find myself needing to work extra hard to maintain my mental health.
In the seventh grade, I struggled with an eating disorder and as a result, during the holidays, I often find myself struggling more than usual with this. I struggle with the transition from school to home, and back again. Specifically, how my eating habits change when I’m at home leads to an internal struggle with my weight and body image.
Being home means the eating habits I’ve developed over the last semester are a bit different. The shake up of my regular routine, plus the overstimulation of having so many family members and friends around, make meals during holiday dinners overwhelming.
Everyday, I have to mentally navigate spending time with my family, finishing up the semester with good grades, adjusting to a new work schedule, and trying to maintain my mental health.
My first few holidays after struggling with my eating disorder were extremely difficult. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know that I would be affected so much. I didn’t know that I would feel like months of progress had disappeared in a matter of a few minutes. I was left feeling extremely defeated.
I had to remind myself that progress can never truly be lost. I started to get to know myself better. I now realize what I need during the holiday season.
There are many things I often have to do for myself: I have to step out during dinner and check in with myself. I have to text a friend during a family gathering to let her know how I am doing. I have to communicate what I’m going through with my friends and family members.
Even though it was difficult, I had to learn to put my mental health first and that a huge part of enjoying the holidays is making mental health a priority. I learned that it’s okay to say “no” when needed, and it’s okay to prioritize self-care.
I also had to remind myself that it is more than okay to ask for help. I have a wonderful group of family and friends who are here to support me through all of this, and the holidays are no exception. Even when I have not been in months, I also do not hesitate to go talk to my therapist about some of what I am going through.
At the end of the day, everyone’s mental health is unique, so each individual has to find what works for them. For many, the holiday seasons are a difficult time. Others may find they are struggling during other parts of the year. Regardless, it is important to realize that you are not alone in your struggles. Everyone has bad days and difficult moments. It is important that you learn to move forward in whatever way works best for you.
These are just a few thoughts that have helped me throughout my journey as I continue to navigate this holiday season. Every year it gets a bit easier as I learn to navigate the different challenges that life brings.
For more information on mental health resources, you can visit this website.