Thanksgiving can be a stressful holiday, especially if you’re typically called on to do most of the cooking and cleaning. Maybe being with family during this time eases your stress and is something you look forward to. It’s wonderful when families are exactly what we need them to be: helpful, warm, nurturing, compassionate, encouraging. With a family like this, you’ll know that even if you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder, you’ll be in a safe place surrounded by people who understand.
But even in the best scenarios, mental health disorders can still bring you down, turning a day of celebration into a black hole of anxiety or depression or paranoia. So how can you navigate your mental health during the Thanksgiving holiday? When and to whom should you reach out for support?
Signs You Should Ask for Help
If you know you have a mental health disorder and are in treatment for it, you’re probably quite aware of when your moods and energy level take a turn toward the worse. But even so, it can be easy to second-guess what you’re experiencing. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, know that it’s time to take a step back, do some self-analysis, and seek support.
- You’re feeling more tired than usual. Tiredness can be a sign of stress or of approaching illness. Don’t brush it off.
- You’re feeling more emotional than usual. Maybe you’re easily irritated or hurt; maybe you’re feeling a persistent and intense sadness even though your circumstances haven’t changed.
- You’re feeling more stressed and worried than usual.
- You’re turning to substances like alcohol or drugs to help you cope.
- You’re having difficulty concentrating and making more mistakes at work or at home than usual.
- You’re finding that you’re doing most of the holiday prep and feeling resentful because of it.
Why We Avoid Asking for Help
Even if you have a great support network of friends and family, it can still be hard to ask for help. After all, you want the people you love to believe that you’re doing well–you want to “give them a break” from caring for you. Here are some other excuses you might use to avoid asking for help.
- You don’t want to disappoint anyone.
- You don’t want others to worry.
- You don’t want to inconvenience someone at a busy time.
- You don’t want to seem like you’re taking up all the attention.
- You want to make sure you’re doing your share of the work.
At the heart of these worries is a fear of rejection. Even when we know a person loves us and wants to help, it can be easy to think that their love and desire to help will disappear if we ask for too much.
How to Overcome Fear and Ask for Help
When you start to worry about what people will think if you ask for help, remind yourself of how you would feel if someone you love needed help. It’s quite likely that you’d want to help and would reassure them that you will always be there for them. Here are some other ideas:
- Know the strengths and weaknesses of people in your support network. Some people are great listeners; some are good at providing fun distraction; some will buckle down and help with practical needs. While you can try to match your needs to the people you can provide help, don’t get too nervous about this. If someone loves you, they will do their best to help.
- Accept your fears instead of beating yourself up. Instead of telling yourself, You should be better at asking for help, tell yourself something like, You have a fear of rejection. That’s okay. A lot of people have the same fear. Can you be brave enough to ask for help anyway?
- Practice positive self-talk. Remind yourself of how much you do every day to help yourself manage your mental health condition. Remind yourself of how much people appreciate the help you give them.
- Every time someone compliments you or expresses gratitude for something you’ve done, keep a note of it in a file or notebook that you can review when you’re feeling unworthy.
Who You Can Ask for Help
Your support system can be made up of people from all areas of life. It might include:
- Family members
- Close friends
- Support group peers
- Your therapist
- A spiritual leader
- Your doctor
- A treatment facility
At a time like Thanksgiving, you’ll need to ask for help from the people you’re celebrating with (they can help you execute the event without added stress) and probably also from your therapist and support group (to get perspective and balance).
This Thanksgiving, Reach Out
If you are struggling with mental health and unable to get above the flood, contact Raleigh Oaks in Garner, NC. We can provide the physical, emotional, and social support you need, helping you find strength and hope this Thanksgiving.