For Immediate Release: December 15, 2022
OhioMHAS Offers Tips to Cope with the Holiday Blues
(COLUMBUS, OH) -- It’s been said that the holidays are the “most wonderful time of the year.” While many people enjoy the bright lights, joyful music, gift giving traditions, and large family gatherings, for Ohioans living with mental illness and substance use disorders, the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be stressful and challenging.
“For people and families coping with substance use and mental health challenges, the holiday season can be a lonely or stressful time filled with anxiety,” said Lori Criss, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS). “We want Ohioans to know that it’s not selfish to make your own mental and physical well-being a priority. It’s OK to not be OK, and it’s OK to ask for help.”
Indeed, free, confidential emotional support is just a phone call or text away. Ohioans may call the Ohio CareLine at 1.800.720.9616 to be connected to a caring professional to listen and offer support. While many situations can be resolved on the phone, when appropriate, CareLine professionals will help callers connect with local community treatment resources. For those who prefer electronic communication, text the keyword 4HOPE to 741 741 to be linked to the Ohio Crisis TextLine. Ohioans experiencing an immediate crisis, meanwhile, are urged to call the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
“You are never alone. If you’re having a hard time or struggling in general, we want you to know Ohio has your back not just during the holidays, but throughout the year,” said Director Criss.
Criss also suggests the following tips to help cope with the “Holiday Blues”:
- Be realistic. Saying ‘no,’ whether to gatherings or a present on someone’s wish list that you simply cannot afford or find, can be one of the most challenging parts of the season. It’s not selfish to make your own mental and physical well-being a priority.
- Don’t try to be a superhero (or heroine). We all have complex family dynamics. Acknowledge them, but also acknowledge that, despite the season’s near-universal message of unity and peace, it’s not always a realistic outlook. Try to limit your exposure to stressful situations and people.
- Volunteer. Volunteering can be a great source of comfort by simply knowing that you're making a positive impact in the lives of people who are not as fortunate. This is a great strategy if you feel lonely or isolated. Consider seeking out other community, religious, or other social events.
- Thrive Outside. Go for a jog or take a walk in a park. Research shows that spending as little as 15 minutes outdoors helps to reduce stress and improve well-being. Even a small amount of exercise, such as parking further from the store, can do much to improve your state of mind. Don’t forget to eat healthy (limit sweets) and stay hydrated.
- Give it some thought. Do you really have to do everything on your list? Draw up a list of reasons why you engage in certain holiday traditions, and then a list of reasons why you shouldn’t. Just making a simple pro and con list will remind you that you do have a choice.
- Make sure that the “holiday blues” haven’t become a scapegoat. You could be experiencing Recurrent Depression with Seasonal Pattern (previously known as Seasonal Affective Disorder) or another biological or psychological cause. If these are persistent feelings, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.
- Recognize when alcohol consumption is becoming a problem. Learn more about how your drinking patterns affect your life and those you love through this screening quiz, www.mha.ohio.gov/alcohol.
- Learn ‘Stress First Aid.’ Stress First Aid is a model for resiliency that addresses stressors, large or small. The goal of Stress First Aid is to understand stress on a spectrum and help move people from unhealthy reactions to healthier ones. Learn more at mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid.
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