Experts give advice on how to manage your mental health during the holidays

Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 4:21 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - For many, the holidays are a time of excitement and joy.

For others, they can bring stress and anxiety.

It can also be a challenging time for those coping with grief.

TV5 got some advice from experts on how we can let joy and grief coexist this holiday season.

“Tending to your mental health is as important as protecting the public health.” Maine DHHS Commissioner, Jeanne Lambrew told reporters during Wednesday’s Maine CDC briefing.

She and other health officials are encouraging you all to be mindful of both this holiday season.

While this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year, that’s not the case for everyone.

The ongoing pandemic has made things even more stressful.

That’s why mental health experts say it’s important to connect with loved ones, either safely in-person or over the phone.

“I think the more you can do that, even if let’s say, Grandma usually comes to see you in person, but this year she can’t, still make that call,” said Dr. Anthony Ng, Medical Director of Community Services at Northern Light Acadia Hospital.

Those who may be struggling with their mental health may be suffering from mood swings or substance abuse.

Some may just be withdrawing from others. If that’s the case, experts say, reach out.

“It could be a Christmas card. It could be taking over some treats. It could be a phone call just checking to see how things are, saying hi, and just making that connection,” explained Colleen Owens, Director of Psychotherapy at Penobscot Community Health Care.

It’s also crucial to keep holiday traditions alive, whether that be baking, having a Christmas movie marathon, or searching for the best holiday lights display.

If you’re cooped up, try venturing outdoors to get some Vitamin D.

“Maine is great in the winter because most of the time it’s sunny, said Owens. “So, even if you got out just to take a few deep breaths of fresh air, get some sunlight in your face, that would be good.”

For those experiencing grief this time of year, experts say it’s important to feel it.

Talk to your loved ones about it, and find ways to remember and honor those you have lost.

“It’s important that they be recognized,” Ng said. “I think that if you brush it under the carpet, I think it just kind of makes you more upset.”

“Making sure that there’s pictures of them around and just allowing yourself to feel the feelings, trying not to stuff them down too much because when we do that, it takes longer to get through the process,” said Owens.

If you are feeling stress or burnout, StrengthenME offers free stress management and resiliency resources to anyone in Maine.

For statewide assistance call, 221-8198.

If you are in crisis, you can call the Maine Crisis Hotline at 1-888-568-1112.

For more information visit: https://heretohelpmaine.com/.

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