The election and its aftermath have been brutal. And the holidays already are profoundly stressful for many people. Because we’re facing what writer Laurel Penny recently called in The Baffler “a mental health asteroid,” author and psychologist Jeff Gardere sat down with Salon recently to outline some of the risks to watch out for the season.
Acknowledging this will likely be “one of the toughest” holiday seasons we’ve faced in years, Gardere, an assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, advised, “If alcohol is an issue, you need to seriously consider how you’re going to handle that; have a plan.” For people with preexisting mental health issues, he said, “it’s very important, if you’re on medications, you stay on your medications . . . that you take care of yourself physically and don’t stress yourself so you exacerbate depression or anxiety.” He added, “Be in touch with your treatment professionals.” If economic stress is a factor — a common refrain in this climate — it’s vital to not be afraid or embarrassed to plan to give handmade gifts or “experiences.”
And while many of us are figuring out how to handle being around friends and family, others are facing isolation and loneliness. Gardere said, “reconnecting” right now should be a priority, adding, “This can be a very healing time, but it needs to be a very protective time.”