7 Truths About Love to Remember This Valentine’s Day

Sparkler against black background

If we were to ask pop culture what the ideal relationship looked like, most of us would expect an image of fireworks in the sky with that one and only person who completes us. Romantic comedies may be uplifting, and love songs beautiful, but much of what we learn about relationships early on sets us up for unrealistic expectations.

The result? We never feel like our relationships are good enough, and may doubt if we’re deserving of love.

Holidays like Valentine’s Day can exacerbate these worries. Social media often makes it seem like everyone else is coupled and in an ecstatic state of love. If we’re partnered, we may wonder if our relationship is as good as everyone else’s seems to be. And if we’re single, we may feel even more inadequate.

Continue reading 7 Truths About Love to Remember This Valentine’s Day

The Mental Health Benefits of the Holidays

woman with christmas socks and mug relaxing by fireplace

Often when we talk about the holidays, we tend to focus on the stressors and challenges of this time of year. Nonetheless, the holiday season isn’t all bad, and there are certainly some powerful positive benefits for our mental health this time of year.

It Gives Us Some Much Needed Downtime

For most of us, the holiday season is a period of high stress and represents a strong departure from our regular routines. This disruption can be challenging to manage. On the other hand, it is also a period in which we experience a much-needed escape from our regular obligations and responsibilities. Continue reading The Mental Health Benefits of the Holidays

Why the Holidays Are Difficult for People With Addictions

christmas dinner beer wine glasses cheers

The holidays can herald challenges for everyone: awkward family issues, travel stress, gift expenses, religious conflicts. Those with mental illnesses might encounter triggers for various symptoms and issues. Addiction is no exception and can be especially burdensome.

During a time of excess and indulgence, it takes even more self-control for people in recovery to abstain from substances. Friends and family members might offer them a drink or invite them to smoke. There is a higher frequency of ads for alcohol. It seems the entire world is consuming without a care, yet those in recovery need to be more cautious than at any other time of year. Continue reading Why the Holidays Are Difficult for People With Addictions

9 Ways To Manage Social Anxiety During The Holidays

woman outside in coat holiday shopping

I approach the holidays with a sense of trepidation every year. I get to our large annual family Christmas gathering and struggle with the small talk and the added attention in brings. How is the job going? What have you been doing the last year? How do you like the city? What have you been writing? Are you dating anyone? Oh no. The way I stutter and stammer and try to hide in a corner with just the baked goods for company, I may as well be the grinch.

While I love the festive spirit, getting to see family and friends who live far away, and picking out gifts for everyone I love, there’s no denying my anxiety can outshine all the holiday cheer. Enter the difficult combination of social anxiety and the holidays. Continue reading 9 Ways To Manage Social Anxiety During The Holidays

How to Deal With a Family Member’s Mental Illness During the Holidays

family Christmas dinner

When I was growing up, my family and I made an annual trip to Tampa, Florida to spend the winter holiday with my mom’s relatives, the Lebanese half of my racial identity. We always stayed at my Teta and Jido’s house (grandma and grandpa in Arabic). There was a consistent source of drama, stress, and hurt during these visits: my Teta. My mother dreaded Christmas because she associated the day with Teta driving her crazy, twisting every errand and conversation into a test of emotional stamina.

For many years I was too young to understand exactly why my grandmother was such a toxic person. Her and my Jido fought nightly, and I could hear them yelling through the walls in Arabic or French. I couldn’t fathom why their relationship was so strained, though. Because she was clearly unhappy, I felt sympathy for her. I didn’t have enough context to place blame. Continue reading How to Deal With a Family Member’s Mental Illness During the Holidays

Why You Should Unplug this Holiday Season, According to a Therapist

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Near the end of each year most of us are chomping at the bit, anxiously awaiting some much-needed downtime. As business slows down and responsibilities wane, people look forward to much-needed rest and rejuvenation. This break is also an opportunity to finally unplug.

There’s a lot of emerging research on the effects of technology use on our collective mental health, but what’s most important to understand about technology is how ubiquitous connectivity can exacerbate worry, fear, sadness and a host of other emotions. If unchecked, this effect could contribute to mental fatigue. Continue reading Why You Should Unplug this Holiday Season, According to a Therapist

Holiday Anxiety: 5 Tips for Surviving Office Holiday Parties

office holiday party employees celebrating

Braving crowded stores to find the perfect gifts, family gatherings with relatives from far flung places you see only once a year, busy irregular schedules and traveling and decorating and wrapping presents and preparing food, and, of course, don’t forget the office holiday party.

’Tis the season…to be anxious.

With all these holiday activities to worry about, for many people, an office party may seem like a blip on the radar, approached with a combination of obligation, resignation, and for some, maybe even a little excitement. But if you live with anxiety, work holiday parties are probably high on the list of seasonal stressors. And you’re definitely not alone. Continue reading Holiday Anxiety: 5 Tips for Surviving Office Holiday Parties

3 Tips to Survive the Holidays While Living with Mental Illness

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As joyous as the holiday season can be, it is not immune from difficulties. If you’re living with a mental illness, dealing with the holiday cheer, increased expectations, and interacting more with family may prove to be overwhelming at times. Stress is often at an all-time high during the holiday season.

Here are some tips to help keep you mentally healthier throughout the holidays.

Tip 1: Be Honest With Yourself

Too often, we rely on others’ standards and expectations for us to dictate how we spend our time during the holidays. This pattern can lead to a crisis when you consider the already stressful season of spending extra money and a condensed amount of time with family members who may not understand your mental illness. Continue reading 3 Tips to Survive the Holidays While Living with Mental Illness

My Holiday Anxiety Around Eating and Body Issues

thanksgiving feast family passing plates

The spread is incredible — juicy dark meat turkey, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, those brussel sprouts my brother prepares that make them actually taste delicious, candied sweet potatoes — and we haven’t even gotten to dessert, my favorite part of every meal, especially when seasonal pies are involved.

My eyes feast on the meal, but inside my anxiety starts to edge its way into my mind. How much can I put on my plate this Thanksgiving and still feel like I won’t be judged for how much or what I am eating? Can I afford to eat two slices of pie, or do I need to stick with just one to keep up appearances? Am I making enough of a show of restraint in comparison to my BMI for the extended family members at the table so I won’t feel judged? Continue reading My Holiday Anxiety Around Eating and Body Issues

4 Issues That Come Up In Couples Counseling During The Holidays

couple christmas tree ornaments

The holiday season can be a wonderful time of closeness with loved ones, but it also causes a lot of stress for many couples. Couples counseling can provide a safe space to work through many common issues that plague couples during the pressure-filled holiday season.

If you are in counseling, some of these issues might resonate with you. Maybe you can raise them in upcoming sessions. If you’re not seeing a therapist, and any of these issues have led to significant conflict in your relationship, it could be time to schedule an appointment with a counselor who can help you work through these concerns. Continue reading 4 Issues That Come Up In Couples Counseling During The Holidays