Why The Holiday Season Is So Hard When You’re Struggling With Your Mental Health

1. There’s such a strong emphasis on spending time with friends and family. All your friends are back in your hometown around the same time, which means they all expect to see you, and if you cancel plans with them you’ll look like a bad friend since they only come around every few months. Of course, your extended family also wants to see you since it’s the holidays and you’re supposed to spend time with them. When you haven’t really socialized with anyone for months and then have to cram all your socializing into a weeklong period, your energy gets depleted fast. It’s hard to stay on.

2. There’s also a strong emphasis on money and material items. You already have trouble with your self-worth. You’re broke. You’re struggling to pay the rent and rarely leave the house because you can’t afford to spend ten dollars on a beer at the bar. And now you’re supposed to show your loved ones how much they mean to you with gifts? It doesn’t seem fair. Sure, they all say you don’t have to get them anything, but really, you do. You’re stuck in a situation where you’re being forced to spend money on things the recipient probably won’t even use.

3. You’re expected to be in a constant state of happiness. If you’re upset, people will call you a grinch. They will wonder how you could possibly be upset around the holiday season. There’s a lot of pressure to enjoy yourself — and when you can’t bring yourself to smile for real, you’re pretty much forced into pretending. You have to fake smiles. Fake laughs. Fake holiday spirit. It’s exhausting.

4. You have a bad habit of procrastinating. Since you’ve been struggling with your mental health, you’re never really in the mood to shop (even online). You’re not in the mood to wrap presents either. It’s all so much work. It might not seem like a big deal to others, but when you can’t even summon the energy to shower on most days, finding the perfect present for every single person in your life isn’t an easy task. And the more weeks that pass, the less time you have to shop, which makes you even more stressed.

5. Everywhere you go is packed. Every store is crowded because of the shoppers. Restaurants are crowded too because everyone is home on winter break and visiting their families. You don’t want to be around such a big group of people, so it dampens your desire to leave the house. You would rather be locked inside, away from everyone.

6. You feel like you aren’t allowed to be yourself. You don’t want to ruin anyone’s holidays by refusing to help decorate the tree or swap presents or kiss beneath the mistletoe. You don’t want your sadness to rub off on the people who you love the most. Basically, even though you’re miserable, you don’t want to make the people around you miserable. You want them to enjoy the holiday. So you suffer alone.