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Dealing with mental health during the holidays

Mental health during the holidays – News 8 at 10

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The holiday season is a difficult time for many dealing with loneliness, stress, or the loss of a loved one around this time of year.

Amanda Wakefield, a psychologist at IU Health, said communicating expectations early is key when it comes to preventing difficult situations.

“It can be especially difficult when there is a change in family structure, whether that be a new marriage,” Wakefield said. “It can also happen with the loss of a family member and you know, grandma always hosted Christmas, but she is no longer there, and a lot of times, the biggest thing is to give yourself some grace and to set some boundaries around the holidays.”

Grieving around the holidays is normal and it is important to accept that when you have experienced a difficult change or loss.

“Finding a balance between allowing yourself to grieve healthily and finding ways to engage in the holidays either in traditions that honor that person or in new ways that create a path forward for you,” said Wakefield.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, said loneliness is another issue that makes the holidays that much more difficult for people, and it is not an uncommon problem.

“One in two adults are struggling with loneliness and the numbers are even higher among kids,” said Murthy. “This truly is a public health threat and needs to be a public health priority.”

Dr. Murthy said loneliness can have serious long-term effects on physical and mental health.

“Most people think about loneliness is just a bad feeling, but it is much more than that,” Murthy said. “And we know that when we struggle with a sense of loneliness and isolation, it increases our risk for depression and anxiety, but also for heart disease, for dementia, and for premature death.”