The holidays are a time of joy and happiness as we visit with family and take time to reflect on the birth of our Saviour. But people who struggle with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses often have a hard time during this season. Unfortunately, so do children. The reasons vary, but often times it is because the children feel overwhelmed or they find the holidays are not living up to their expectations.
What makes it worse is that parents often times miss the signs of depression during the hectic holiday season. Here’s some ways to protect your child’s mental health as things get busy.
- Know the signs. Is your child withdrawing from friends and activities? Are they having spells of intense irritability or changes in eating habits? These can be signs but there are also less obvious symptoms, such as lowered self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness and difficulty concentrating.
- Just as adults often feel alone in their battle of depression, so do children! Make sure that the children know they are not alone in this. One of the best ways to help “normalize” your child’s emotions for them is to be honest about your own emotions. If your child knows mom or dad are sad sometimes, then they might be more willing to open up and discuss what’s going on for them.
- Make time for them. Schedules are packed during the holidays and as a result, you might not be spending as much time with your kids as you usually do. Try to make sure you plan some with just your family so the kids are given the time and attention they so desperately need. By doing this you will make them feel loved and more secure.
- Seek help if needed. Sometimes it’s more than just the holiday stress or the winter blues. If this is the case and there are no signs of their mood improving, reach out to a health professional. This is especially important if the symptoms are worsening and they continue over a notable stretch of time (one or two weeks).
Finally… Enjoy your holidays. As an adult, you’re able to figure out what causes more stress for you and what doesn’t. Try to remember that the season isn’t about making plans and being stressed out. It’s about enjoying the time with your family as you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Nichole is a Social Media Marketing Manager, student, daughter and friend. She has a Marketing Diploma and a Certificate of Christian Theology. She is an avid coffee lover who enjoys a good movie or book. She takes great joy in organizing, scheduling, and volunteering. Her passion for volunteerism extends specifically to those who are hurting, whether it is emotionally, physically, or mentally.
Nichole is certified to provide Mental Health First Aid, which means she can provide immediate support and guidance in a safe environment, comfortably have a conversation about mental health related issues and offer professional and other supports. This does NOT make Nichole a psychologist, or a counselor. It simply gives her the tools to direct people to the help they need.