CAPE TOWN - The holiday season is often described as “the most wonderful time of the year," but for many, it can be a very difficult time. Movies and popular advertising portray the holidays as full of cheer, but often, many struggle to cope with grief, stress, end-of-year burnout, financial strain, family problems and loneliness.
These stressors can make it even more difficult for people living with mental health issues.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) said they are gearing up for the festive season to help thousands of people who will be reaching out for support.
To better help and support countless South Africans who struggle with their mental health during the festive season, SADAG is sharing daily mental health-related tips.
Tips to find the holiday spirit:
- Lean on your support system - If you've been depressed, you need a network of close friends and family to turn to when things get rough. Take time to get together with your support team or connecting remotely through online chats or WhatsApp groups where you share funny or inspirational messages to check in with each other.
- Forget about the perfect gift - Don't stress about finding the absolute perfect gift ever. Sometimes, doing something for someone or giving of your time is more meaningful.
- Stay on schedule - As much as you possibly can, try to stick with your normal routine during the holidays. Don't stay too late at parties. Don’t pull an all-nighter wrapping presents. Disrupting your schedule and losing out on sleep can make your mood deteriorate.
- Don't rely on substances - Remember that alcohol is a depressant, and abusing it will leave you feeling worse. Be particularly careful if you are taking medicine.
- If you take medication, don't miss doses - In the hustle of the holidays, it's easy to slack off and miss medication. Make reminders to take your medication and make sure you have enough stock for the whole holiday period.
- Don't stay longer than you want - Going to a party doesn't obligate you to stay until the bitter end. Instead, just drop by for a few minutes, say hello, and explain you have other engagements. Knowing you have a plan to leave can really ease your anxiety.
- Stick to a budget - The cost of holiday shopping mounts quickly and can make people feel out of control and anxious. Draw up a realistic budget before you start shopping, and stick to it.
Follow Sadag on its various online platforms - Facebook (The South African Depression and Anxiety Group), Twitter @TheSADAG, Instagram @sadag_official and Website www.sadag.org to get daily Mental Health Tips for the Holiday Season.
SADAG is open throughout the holidays and is able to provide free telephone counselling, support and nationwide referrals. Call the Sadag helpline on: 0800 56 7567 or 080 021 2223 or 080 045 6789 or 080 012 1314.
SMS 31393 or WhatsApp: 076 882 2775.