Festive Loneliness? Dealing with mental and emotional health during the holidays

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Seasons Greetings!

Messages of Love and Joy and Goodwill will be flooding inboxes this season. Well meaning they are and they basically express the appreciation we give our loved ones, and we also expect back. Many families and friends meet together to celebrate the season and the only opportunity (for most parts) to be communally together. The festivities are a time most people look forward to, to be with their loved ones.

For others, the festive season can bring with it feelings of loneliness coupled with stress, anxiety and /or depression. And rightly so because of an experience of an increased financial burden because of increased travel costs yet you have to be with your loved ones, expenses involved in buying the highly expected perfect gifts and plan events with high expectations of perfection. Others get overwhelmed by the burden and the costs of hosting, while many others find it difficult to cope with heavily packed calendars, parties and other programs that leave little or no time for personal space or self care.

Additionally, the festive season also brings on feelings of loss, for it is a time the void left by the loss of a loved one can be tangibly felt. People feel the absence of the loved one more because they remember the moments that bring together the family and the memory of these loved ones in previous gatherings haunt them. The people who are directly affected, like siblings, parents or spouse feel very lonely at such times, even though they may have people around them.

It is untrue to say that there is someone who is not affected by any of these. The holidays can bring up difficult emotions stemming from these things.

Sometimes helping a loved one who is going through festive loneliness may be difficult and tedious. Understanding the source of depression and anxiety may also be an uphill task for you and sometimes the victim. People in such situations feel like they need to fill up voids by involving themselves in certain things to avoid situations that trigger the negative emotions. However, we need to crack a balance on how to help our loved ones in such times.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Alberta offers some of the most common holiday triggers and tips to prevent and/or lessen holiday depression, anxiety and stress. Check this out

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Managing mental and emotional wellness is always challenging, during the festive season it can be particularly hard. Even though the struggle can feel isolating, and sometimes it is, remember you are not alone. Keep close to a loved one who understands.

Most importantly seek help from professional mental health services while  maintaining your self-care routines. Include a regular practice of mindfulness, physical exercises, healthy lifestyle habits like taking lots of water and eating fruits as you engage with this festive season.

Linda Afya wishes you a festive season full of love and joy, devoid of loneliness, anxiety, unnecessary stress and depression. May this season bring you good cheer and touch your heart. Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2019

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