Helpful Holiday Mental Health tips from Hands

The Holiday season has arrived, and it is certain to be like no other. The Holidays can be a stressful time for many families, add in a pandemic and a series of measures to help control the spread of the virus, and it’s a potentially difficult mix, especially for families who might already be managing anxiety or mental health issues.

To assist, Hands theFamilyHelpNetwork is providing some holiday-based tips for any families who might benefit.

“Children, youth and families are already going through a lot this year, with the pandemic, isolation, big changes to the school system and more,” said Kelly Smirle, Manager of Child and Youth Mental Health Services North Bay/East Nipissing at Hands.  “Some of the stress and anxiety can be magnified by the feeling that this is supposed to be the ‘happiest time of the year’. It’s important to be open and recognize that this can be a difficult time for some.  Be kind to yourself and your family members if your mood isn’t as jolly as you would like.”

Some ideas to ease anxiety and have fun include:

  • Try to maintain a regular schedule, making sure that there are times for breaks, regular meals, bedtimes, and times to be active.
  • Find positive family activities in your community like going to the park, making a snowperson, baking cookies, family movie night or board game night.
  • If you are missing other family members or loved ones who you can’t travel to see in person, you can connect and reach out in other ways, like facetime or zoom visits, a virtual gift exchange,
  • Consider making homemade letters and/or crafts and mail them to family members who you aren’t able to visit.
  • Practice mindfulness and relaxation exercises when possible.

Children’s Mental Health Ontario has published a helpful resource too: 7 Tips to get Ready for the Holidays.

Most importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling, reach out for help.

Hands offers appointments for online “walk in” clinics Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 AM to 7 PM (last booked appointment at 5:30 PM). You can book an appointment by calling 1-800-668-8555. Note: this service will be closed from December 20, 2020, to January 4, 2021.

Children and Youth in crisis can call 1-844-287-9072 for help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hands wishes everyone a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season and looks forward to healthy and happy New Year.