Statement from BC Liberal Mental Health Critic Jane Thornthwaite on Holiday Mental Health

The holiday season can be a happy family occasion – or it can be stressful and lonely.  Holidays can put strains on our relationships, our finances and everyone’s busy time.  Sometimes, we feel we are not giving enough, or perhaps we have given (spent) too much. Budgeting is often a huge stress. “Keeping up with the Jones’s” can also stress people out at a time when just organizing our own schedules can be tough.  Imagine feeling that you have to compete with your neighbors with the amount of decorations, presents, or invitations to gatherings.  Plus everything now is posted on social media for all to see!  The Canadian Mental Health Association has prepared a few tips to help you put things into perspective.  Let’s try and remember that happiness comes from within, and our greatest gift to others and ourselves is to be kind – which costs nothing.

Tips to ease holiday stress:

1. Plan ahead. Do as much ahead of time as possible.

2. As much as possible, organize and delegate. Rather than one person cooking the whole family meal, invite guests to bring a dish.

3. Beware of overindulgence. Having a few too many glasses of spiked eggnog can dampen your holiday spirit and too many sweets can make you tired. Eat well. Prioritize rest and staying active.

4. Stay within budget.  Try to eliminate the unnecessary spending and stay within your budget. A call, a visit, or a note to tell someone how important they are to you can be as touching as and more meaningful than a gift.

5. Remember what the holiday season is about for you. Make that your priority. This season is really about sharing, loving and time spent with family and loved ones.  Simple things can bring us joy.

6. Spend more time with others.  Find ways to spend the holidays with other people. If you’re part of a family gathering, invite someone you know is alone to your gathering.

7. Connect with your community. Attend diverse cultural events with family and friends. Help out at a local food bank or another community organization. Give to a charity like CMHA that helps those in need, or donating on someone else’s behalf; you can donate at www.cmha.bc.ca.

8. Simplify gift-giving – it’s the thought that counts not the price tag. Try drawing names for gift exchanges rather than buying for everyone or making something thoughtful; the focus is on giving. Not buying.

9.Remember the weather doesn’t help. Some people get the winter blahs each year, and some even develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Paying attention to nutrition, exercise and sleep and being careful with alcohol are also important if you have a history of depression. If your low mood carries on into the New Year and starts to affect your daily life, you should see your family doctor. CMHA offers free skills and coaching to help overcome low mood through the Bounce Back program. To learn more visit www.bouncebackbc.ca

10. Learn stress-busting skills you can use year-round. If the holidays often get you down, you may struggle with stress, low mood and worry at other times of year. CMHA’s Living Life to the Full course can help you develop skills to better manage problems, practice healthy thinking, and build confidence. To sign up or gift this helpful course visit www.livinglifetothefull.ca.

Additional resources can be made available from the Foundry; a one-stop-shop for young people to access mental health care, substance use services, primary care, social services and youth and family peer supports. More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/Foundrybc/.

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