Is festive anxiety real? With festive season around the corner, how to deal with mental health concerns during this time?

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Festivals are an expressive way to celebrate and to rejoice in special moments and emotions in our lives with our loved ones. But what if this instead of creating happiness leads to apprehensions, comparisons, and feeling not good enough.

All because people around are excited and cheerful doesn’t mean some can’t be struggling and feeling overwhelmed. There could be various sources that could lead to feeling anxious during festivities. It could depend from person to person though some individuals with prior may get triggered do get overwhelmed and can be terrifying for people with pre-existing mental health concerns.

A study by American Psychological Association (APA) found that "Stress around the holidays is disproportionately felt by women. Women are more likely to feel that stress increases around the holidays (44 percent of women report an increase of stress during the holidays versus 31 percent of men) Women say they have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to take on all of the tasks associated with family celebrations, such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning."

Worries can be caused by having to plan meet-ups, be presentable and being perfect, forced to socialize. The festive period brings with it many pressures, from feeling obliged to socialize, juggle and the financial strains of keeping up the expenses. Often the pressure of having to complete all the work before the holidays can lead to unnecessary anxiety.

The festivities could also be difficult especially for grievers and this time could be reminders of the loved ones they lost. It’s important to remind yourself that as circumstances change, traditions will change as well. Rather acknowledge your feelings and find ways to ground yourself.

It is ok to learn that you don’t need to force yourself to be happy and that it’s good to acknowledge feelings that aren’t joyful. It may be difficult for people around to understand the low moods since festivals are known to be a joyous occasion for all and feeling differently can bring up self-doubt.

Mental health concerns to look out for are:

  • - Physiological symptoms like headaches, stomach aches
  • - Insomnia and irregular sleep patterns
  • - Dysfunctional eating patterns- ranging from loss of appetite to binge eating
  • - Increased alcohol intake
  • - Anxiety attacks
  • - Social isolation or withdrawal
  • - Poor self-care and hygiene
  • - Feeling low, helpless, and lacking motivation

5 Ways to help de-stress and cope with the festive anxiety:

Accept modest expectations- Expectations to celebrate holidays in a specific way can trigger unpleasant emotions from the past. Accepting that you may have limitations now and can modify your expectations from the past.

Plan and pace yourself- Festivals tend to have a different activity to be attended and invited to. It is ok to choose which invitation to accept without having to feel guilty. Prioritize where you would feel comfortable attending and get comfortable with having to say no when needed. Pacing through all the activities and Pace yourself. Know your capacity and avoid taking on more responsibilities than you can handle. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do rather than packing it all in.

Create your own different traditions- Everyone and every family may have different traditions that have been following for years for the namesake. If possible, communicate to the family in advance about how you have been feeling and create new traditions to celebrate that feel more meaningful.

Identify your support system and reach out to them- One of the most important aspects of anxiety is to identify that it is present and it is having an impact on your life. How it has been making you feel, sharing it with people you consider as your supporting crew and would willingly be there for you. Feeling isolated or misunderstood could be a barrier leading to resistance to reach out.

Continuing the routine- It is easy to slip into the trap of cheat days though disrupting the routine completely can feel very disorienting, be it regarding eating habits or sleep patterns. Try to keep some of the routine activities like exercising, meditating, and having a good amount of sleep. Being mindful of how the days are going to be placed/look can help you to set aside some time each day for self-care and relaxation.

If the mentioned symptoms have persisted for a period of time and have gotten serious, seek help by sharing it with someone you trust. Coping with the demands of festivities requires time, effort, and patience. Ignoring the need to address the concerns will just make it more stressful in the long run. Reach out to a mental health professional to help work through difficult emotions and provide with healthy coping strategies.

One of the Centres in Mumbai to avail therapy is:
Mpower- The Centre, Hughes road
1/155, 15, Nyaymurti Sitaram
Patkar Marg, Khareghat
Colony, Hughes Road,
Mumbai - 400 007.
+91 22 2385 6228,
+91 97028 00044

Also read: What happens inside the counselling centre in Mumbai?-
https://mpowerminds.com/blog/What-happens-inside-the-counselling-centre-in-Mumbai

Author
Jenisha Shah
Clinical Psychologist and Therapeutic Movement Facilitator
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