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Kesha Offers Advice For Dealing With Mental Illness Over The Holidays

“They can be the hardest time of the year”

by Sarah Beauchamp

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, even more so if you live with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. In an essay for TIME magazine, Kesha opened up about how this time of year can "become a stressful and emotional time" for people with mental health issues, and offered some advice for those who are suffering.

"Sometimes, you’re forced to spend time with family you rarely see and don’t always get along with," the singer writes of the holiday season. "Or maybe you’re alone when everyone else is with family. Or you are off from work, with more time to think troubling thoughts. Or you are at work and can’t be with those you love. Or you are thrust into party situations that tempt your demons. Or you aren’t invited to those tempting parties."

This is how the holidays can "throw off your game," Kesha writes. "When you have a routine, it’s easier to manage whatever mental struggles you may be faced with, and when that routine is broken, it can trigger things you may not be ready to face. I know it has for me. It was during the holidays when I hit a low moment and with the help of my mother decided to seek help for my eating disorder."

She told Rolling Stone earlier this year that it was after a dinner party with friends and family in 2014, at which she pretended to eat, that she broke down and told her mom about her eating disorder. "Around the holidays, I often feel like I’m supposed to be everywhere, with everyone—all with the added guilt that it’s the season of giving," Kesha continues in TIME. "To fight this, I’ve developed a mantra: It’s not selfish to take time for yourself."

In order to help clear your mind and relax, Kesha recommends taking a walk in nature or talking to a friend or therapist. "Sit out one of the holiday gatherings in favor of some personal time," she writes. "Just do whatever helps you calm down and gives you a break from the stress. Download one of the many meditation apps for your phone. I particularly like 'Calm' and 'End Anxiety.'"

She reminded readers that "it’s not your responsibility to try to make the whole world happy. Especially since sometimes it’s not that easy to make yourself happy, either—even with all the celebrations and gifts and seasonal decorations, foods and drinks, which can only do so much." 

While we often feel obligated to be really happy around the holidays, Kesha says it's important not to put pressure on yourself. "It’s just another day—don’t put unrealistic expectations on it, and don’t beat yourself up." And, if you take time for yourself, she says, "you will actually be much better company for those around you."