Editorial: Stress During the Holiday Season


Maura Mulholland, Managing Editor

*The views and opinions expressed in the following piece are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Nest or Albany High School.*

The holiday season-late November through late December- is often a time full of happiness, newfound joys, expressions of love, and familial unity. However, for some people, the holidays are a stressful and painful time.

There are a variety of reasons for this to be the case. The most obvious is exposure to toxic relatives, as families come together during the holidays. This can cause disagreements over opinions or life choices, or even traits the youth may have. It’s especially difficult for LGBTQ+ kids, who can’t control the way they are but get negative and critical feedback from distant relatives. It’s also difficult when relatives have outdated or offensive political ideas that don’t correlate with the world that actually exists.

Mental health issues can also be amplified during the holidays. With friends and families gathering around each other, it can be difficult if you have issues with needing to be alone or being introverted. Solitude to “recharge” your social battery is hard to come by when your house is crammed with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in months, and it an be overwhelming. The same goes for those with anxiety disorders. The opposite can also be true. Being alone or isolated on the holidays can be incredibly depressing and seeing pictures of people surrounded by others who care about them can really bring down your self-esteem and mental state.

Here’s how to cope. If your relatives are the issue, avoid them. This can be done by ignoring them when they start being problematic to you. Give them a curt smile, answer the bare minimum of the questions they ask you, and leave the conversation whenever the opportunity strikes. You can also step out for a walk to clear your head, which is easier to do if your house is packed. If all else fails, hide in the bathroom and pretend you accidentally locked yourself in. You could also try to help in the kitchen if that’s not stressful, making something with your hands can be soothing.

If you’re reaching a really bad point in your mental health or you’re at a breaking point, the best thing to do is disconnect from your stressful surroundings for a while. This can be done a variety of ways, but it’s good to stick to ways that don’t harm your body like drugs or alcohol will. A couple of good ways to take a break are on the App Store. The app calmharm helps you to back down from a painful and dangerous mental state and become more comfortable in your situation. It’s also user-friendly and simple to set up.

Another method of calming oneself down from a heightened mental state is the 5-4-3-2-1 method. Find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This is only one method for bringing oneself back down to earth, there are many other anxiety-ridding breathing exercises to become less panicked and stop hyperventilating.

 If things get really, really bad, the self-harm text hotline is CONNECT to 741741 or the anxiety/panic hotline is 1-800-950-6264. Stay mentally healthy this holiday season and good luck.