Festivals are celebrated throughout the world, but India is the country that celebrates the most festivals. India is also known as the ‘Land of Festivals’. The reason for this is the diverse cultural and religious beliefs in our country. Hence, for every Indian, festivals are an integral part of our lives. Being an integral part, it doesn’t fail to have an effect on our mental health.
In an attempt to analyse the effect of festivals on mental health, it was found to be as diverse as the number of festivals in India.
Some positive effects of festivals on mental health are:
1. During times when our lives are relatively secluded and mostly preoccupied with hectic schedules with little or no time left for nurturing our social health, festivals provide us with an opportunity to rekindle our bonds. It is a time when families come together, creating a sense of belongingness, and this has a positive impact on a person’s mental health.
2. During festivals, there is an increased sense of self-care and grooming, which contributes to boosting confidence. Studies suggest that simple activities like getting our hair done can make a person feel good. It is also said that proper skincare can release oxytocin, which stimulates a feeling of calm and well-being. Self-care routines can also contribute to relieving stress.
3. Festivals also contribute to breaking the monotony of everyday life. It allows us to take a pause and enjoy the rituals and social connections.
4. Festivals are also an opportunity to nurture our personal and professional bonds.
5. Participation in the preparation and conduct of different rituals and functions also gives us a sense of accomplishment in addition to a sense of connectedness.
But unfortunately, festivals can also be a painful period for some of us.
1. Festivals can be difficult for people in grief, as the joyous surroundings can make their hearts miss the presence of their lost loved ones even more. And since grief is a very personal experience, they might feel lonely amidst the festivities.
2. As mentioned already, festivals are times when people celebrate together. People with existing mental illnesses might find it difficult to participate in social events, fueling their sense of loneliness. Among people with mental illness, 64% have reported this time of the year to be difficult.
3. Festivals may lead to increased stress for people with mental illness, for whom managing the daily chores may already be a struggle. In addition to that, managing guests, preparing for rituals, etc. can contribute to high stress levels.
4. For people under stress due to limited financial resources, festivals might seem both financially and mentally taxing, as they may include travelling, buying gifts, and hosting events.
5. Family gatherings during festivals can trigger both joy and stress. In the case of complex family dynamics or strained relationships, the compulsion to interact can lead to heightened anxiety and emotional distress. These interactions may also trigger memories of past traumas or unresolved issues.
6. Certain mental health conditions are managed well when routines are followed. But during festivals, routines are disrupted, which might contribute to the deterioration of one’s mental health.
7. As revealed by a person who has been working in a correctional facility or prison for more than 12 years now, festivals are difficult times for the inmates. They often share how they miss their families and feel the pain of their confinement even more during such times. It seems some also express worry about whether their children are able to enjoy the festivals without them.
May India always be an example of unity in diversity. May it be known as the ‘Land of Festivals’, and as Indians, may this source of joy and celebration be woven into the fabric of our lives forever. But while enjoying and relishing the priceless experiences during this festive season, let’s be mindful and sensitive to those around us in distress.