While many wish joy to the world, others struggle to simply get through the holiday season with their mental health intact.
The season has a tendency to bring up sad memories, sparking depression and anxiety. Expectations to spend time with, sometimes fractured, families and to be in good cheer can also be stressful to many people. Financial worries also play their part.
But the truth is one in five Canadians experience mental health issues at one point or another, meaning odds are someone sitting around your Christmas dinner table is struggling to some degree with the season.
Rev. Michelle Slater runs a series of sessions at Oak Bay United Church leading up to Christmas, aimed at centring both youth and adults in a hectic time.
Many find solace in the simple service designed for when Christmas is tough.
“This is an opportunity the week before Christmas to catch your breath, to breathe in some peace, to remind yourself of what the mystery of Christmas really is for you and for the people you love and be more grounded. To really experience a joyful Christmas,” Slater says.
Some of us prefer the simpler joys, such as a bundled walk on the beach taking in the joy of other people’s (well behaved) dogs along Esquimalt Lagoon.
The Canadian Mental Health Association offers a list of tips to help people get through the holiday season. They recommend planning ahead, staying within a budget, learning stress-busting skills and other strategies to approach the season with as much ease as possible.
Those with mental health issues are often not in a place, emotionally or mentally, where they are capable of carrying out these tips.
Think about taking the time now for both yourself and others to make the holidays comfortable for all. Ask what you can do for family and strangers or anyone having a hard time with the season.
Don’t forget to listen for the answer, sometimes it’s as simple as spending time.