The holidays for some teens can mean relaxing, hanging out with family, and overeating home-cooked meals. For other teens, however, it increases stressors and triggers, potentially leading to relapse. Maintaining recovery takes work and involves making mental health a priority. Thanksgiving mental health tips can help teens manage the stress that comes with the holiday season and get through without issues.
According to Mental Health America, the number of teens with mental health disorders is growing. Survey results show that 2.5 million American youth have severe major depression, and 4.08% have a substance use disorder, yet only one in three receive mental health treatment. This suggests many teens are struggling with their issues alone during the holidays.
Top Thanksgiving Mental Health Tips
It doesn’t have to be this way, however. There are many steps teens can take to make mental health a priority and avoid relapse. Here are some of the best thanksgiving mental health tips for teens.
1. Check Mental Health Symptoms
It can be challenging for some teens to identify their symptoms. Some may experience temporary mental health symptoms, like the holiday blues that fade once the holiday ends. Others have symptoms that never leave. Loneliness may be mistaken for boredom or tearfulness with changing hormones. Identifying symptoms is the first step in implementing these thanksgiving mental health tips.
Teens can benefit from meeting with a mental health professional to discuss symptoms and receive an accurate diagnosis. This gives them a starting point and a plan for staying mentally healthy this Thanksgiving. Teens can also benefit from peer support by joining a group at a local treatment center. Giving and getting feedback from other teens helps them know they are not alone and that there are people who understand what they are going through.
The sooner a teen learns when and how to seek professional help for themselves, the better. Let them know seeking help is a sign of strength. Then, support them along the way.
2. Prepare for Triggers
Triggers may increase during the holidays as teens spend more time with family and less time with friends. This change in routine can make teens feel anxious. Other routine changes like traveling, sleep quality, work schedules, and social media activity can add even more stress. Having a plan and sticking to it prevents impulsive behaviors that jeopardize recovery.
Preparing for these stressors removes the pressure of figuring out how to handle certain situations. For example, a teen who doesn’t get along with an extended family member may dread seeing them at the Thanksgiving gathering. They can prepare by coming up with two or three ways to avoid conflict, like leaving the room or creating a signal they can share with a parent to help them get away.
Boredom is a big trigger for relapse, but it has many solutions. Create a plan to overcome every holiday trigger and refer to it as much as necessary. If a teen starts feeling bored or lonely, they can call a friend, journal, learn a new hobby, bake, play sports, or attend an Alateen meeting in the area.
3. Take on Responsibilities
For some teens, feeling out of control is not only a trigger but can also be a source of negative mental health symptoms and behaviors. During the holidays, teens may feel out of control when they are not allowed to plan activities but are forced to participate.
Teens should control some aspects of the planning, even simple decisions like what food to eat, what movie to watch, or seating arrangements. Thanksgiving is a time with many opportunities to help teens feel successful and rewarded for being responsible.
4. Engage in Self-Care
This is one of the most important Thanksgiving mental health tips and can help brighten the mood of any teen. Many adults engage in self-care activities, such as getting a massage, meditating, attending yoga classes, taking long baths, and working out. Teens can benefit just as much from self-care activities. Now is the time for teens to learn the importance of meeting their physical and mental health needs.
If teens can learn to prioritize health and establish positive habits now, they can avoid many future issues. Ideas for teen self-care may include:
- Limiting social media time.
- Watching appropriate television shows.
- Building healthy friendships.
- Positive self-talk.
- Improving sleep habits.
- Establishing spiritual relationships.
- Learning a new skill.
5. Set Boundaries
Teens who set boundaries understand how to build supportive, healthy relationships without burning bridges or hurting others. They know how to communicate their needs so that everyone feels safe, respected, and heard. They are assertive, not aggressive.
Learning to set boundaries as a teen can prevent them from becoming people pleasers or codependent in unhealthy adult relationships. Teens should decide which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. They should learn how to identify how someone makes them feel and how to communicate their boundaries. Teens must learn how to respect the boundaries of others, too.
6. Create a Healthy Living Environment
The home environment of a teen contributes to their mental health. An unhealthy environment is considered a risk factor or increases their chances of developing mental health symptoms or relapsing on alcohol or drugs.
A healthy environment has the following elements:
- Alcohol and drug-free
- Positive communication
- Healthy conflict resolution
- Area for quality sleep
- Healthy foods
- No clutter
- Peace and calm
7. Take Time Away
If the stress of Thanksgiving affects your mental health, consider entering a residential program at a local treatment center for teens. Sobriety must be a priority over seeing family and eating a traditional meal. An inpatient program is a perfect place to help you avoid relapse.
You will not be alone, either. Other teens will be there to address their mental health and substance use disorder needs. Treatment doesn’t have to end when Thanksgiving ends, either. Some programs combine education as part of your recovery plan. This helps you stay up to date with academic goals while also participating in behavioral therapies to reach your recovery goals.
Implementing Thanksgiving Mental Health Tips
Implementing thanksgiving mental health tips can be a difference for your teen this holiday season. Family systems therapy is a crucial part of treatment, you will see your family during your stay. This will help your teen learn how to process stress caused by family situations and deal with it better. Activities geared towards teens will help ensure they have fun during gatherings. The short time you spend in residential treatment will prepare you for all your future holidays with family and friends. Call us anytime, 24/7, to learn more about how we can help.