When you search for articles on mental health and the holidays, they overwhelmingly focus on the negative aspects and how to “cope.” I’m guilty of adding to this, so I wanted to share some positive aspects about the holidays when you’re dealing with bipolar disorder. Sure, there is a lot of stress involved. We put a lot of effort into trying to make everything perfect. The gifts have to be perfect. The atmosphere has to be perfect. We have to be the perfect hosts or the perfect guests. It’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself for a season that is supposed to be centered on giving and good cheer. However, not everything about the holidays has to be considered negative. You don’t have to spend the entire time waiting for the other shoe to drop. Here are five positive things about the holidays when you have bipolar disorder:
1 It’s going to get brighter.
Literally. Winter solstice has passed, so you’ve already conquered getting through the darkest days. The effect is more prominent in northern climates, but about 25% of people with bipolar disorder report having symptoms shift with the seasons. It’s only up from here.
2 There are Christmas lights.
If you put up your own lights, it gives you a chance to use your creativity to be festive, but one of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is drive around and admire the hard work that other people put into making the season brighter. Not only is it fun to look at all of the different displays, but it can give you a break from all of the hustle and bustle. Do it alone or with friends or family and just take a moment to enjoy.
3 You get to see more of your loved ones.
Depression tends to make you want to hole up and push others away. It can be difficult and stressful, but socializing is important. Your loved ones are your best support system. Spending time with friends or family can actually reduce your stress levels and make you feel better.
4 It’s the perfect time to make new resolutions.
If you’ve been having a hard time this year, it’s a great time for a fresh start. You don’t have to make big plans. It’s easier to abandon goals when we can pass them off as too big to accomplish. Having trouble sticking to your treatment? Spend some time with your psychiatrist to work something out. You can do the same with your therapist.
I know. I know. Yes, you should watch what you eat. Your diet can have an impact on your bipolar disorder symptoms. Also, not everybody likes pie. The point is, try not to be too hard on yourself. If you eat a little too much or stay up a little too late, don’t beat yourself up over it. These sorts of things can impact your mental health, but stressing about it can too. It’s important to enjoy yourself.
You can find me on Twitter @LaRaeRLaBouff
Photo credit: melissa brawner