As the holiday season comes around, expectations for the quintessential “festive holiday season” continue to mount. Everywhere you look—in the news, movies, and on social media—there’s an undeniable pressure to experience the picture-perfect Christmas.
It seems that, without a selection of gifts and being surrounded by your closest friends and family, the holiday season is incomplete. For many, however, the holiday season isn’t about hearty Thanksgiving dinners and merry Christmas Eves.
In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that the holiday season places a blinding spotlight on “everything that’s difficult about living with depression.” This results in a marked exacerbation of mental health concerns during these months.
Thus, NAMI reported that 64 percent of people with mental illnesses report that the holidays worsen their conditions. Whether the causes are financial strains, unrealistic expectations, or the inability to be with loved ones, the feelings of loneliness are palpable.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that rears its head and inflicts depressive episodes as the seasons change. While Seasonal Affective Disorder—commonly known as seasonal depression—can occur in summer, it’s most likely to happen in winter.
The holiday season, coincidently, falls in the winter and brings with it daunting Seasonal Affective Disorder. As a mental health counselor or psychologist, it’s not uncommon to hear clients complaining of depressive symptoms around this time.
Whether they’re experiencing frequent oversleeping, lethargy, changes in appetite, hopelessness, or difficulty concentrating, the symptoms are very real and can prove difficult to fend off.
Helping with Loneliness this Holiday Season
At this time of year, that’s generally considered cheerful and joyous, it’s important to look out for your clients’ wellbeing more than ever before. Feeling isolated and alone can not only take a toll on their mental and physical wellbeing, it can affect a blow to their self-esteem too.
Find the root cause
As a mental health counselor, you can work with your client to find out what’s causing their troubles. Stresses of impending deadlines and fear of the New Year or dysfunctional family life can cause a host of negative thoughts and feelings.
Focus on self-care
Neglecting your personal wellbeing and health is one of the major outcomes of loneliness and hopelessness. As their counselor, you should look out for these signs and encourage your clients to work on wellness solutions you provide them.
Practice healthy coping strategies
It’s important to cope with your mental health concerns in a healthy, effective way possible. For most clients, this may mean turning to alcohol to find solace. As a mental health counselor, it’s imperative that you help your client work through their concerns in the healthiest way possible.
For some, this could mean moving away from alcohol—since it’s a depressant—for others, it could mean trying to reconnect with old friends. Either way, a healthy distraction and a break from your regular life may be exactly what they need!
As a mental health counselor or counselor, you should be able to provide your clients with the kind of support they need. This means continually updating your knowledge and polishing your skills so you can take each new case in a stride.
At E Care Behavioral Health Institute, we believe that you never stop learning and growing. Our CEU webinars—both live webinars and recorded webinars—for mental health professionals and courses are geared toward providing economical and convenient training.
Our wide selection of informative General Skills Building Webinars ensures mental health professionals everywhere can take advantage of high-quality care counseling. Browse through our collection of webinars and courses to get started.