Hannah Hart’s Strategies for Dealing With Holiday Stress and Social Comparison

The YouTuber and author brings her usual candidness to the conversation about mental health.

Courtesy of Hannah Hart
Courtesy of Hannah Hart

Welcome to Thriving Mind, a resource to help you understand your individual signs of stress, take small steps to recharge, and unlock better mental health.

Hannah Hart made a funny video — hilariously attempting to whip up a grilled cheese without any cheese — and posted it online for a friend. Little did she know what would come next: a YouTube channel that, in the eight years since that video was posted, has grown to nearly 2.5 million subscribers; a New York Times best-selling book; a self-help podcast she cheekily calls Hannahlyze This. And in the process, Hart has also become a prominent voice in the LGBTQ community. “I came out online as part of my entertainment journey, wanting to make sure as I started my career that everyone knew who I was and it wasn’t something I was trying to keep hidden, and it also wasn’t the entirety of my identity,” Hart has said

While she embraces her sexual orientation today, Hart struggled with depression in the past as she tried to reconcile who she was with the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witness faith she was raised in, she told People in 2016. Luckily, she got the help she needed to come to terms with her identity: “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you need medicine, take medicine. If you need therapy, go to therapy!” she said. Hart’s message is a good reminder that help for mental health isn’t one-person-fits-all.

Before we can fully cope with our stress, we need to develop awareness of what our stressors are in the first place — and actionable steps that support our mental well-being. A new Thrive Global survey of over 2,000 Americans ages 18 to 85 shows just how desperately people want and need that knowledge: 91% of respondents said not knowing or ignoring their personal signs of overstress had a negative impact on their mental well-being, 72% wish they knew more small everyday steps to improve their mental health, and nearly half said when it comes to managing their stress, they don’t know where to start. 

Because there is power in sharing our stories, Hart is opening up about her own stressors, her signs of overstress, and the small, everyday steps she takes to take care of her mental well-being.

Thrive Global: What are your stressors?

Hannah Hart: Hoping I’m meeting expectations causes stress. In this new book I wrote, My Drunk Kitchen Holidays!, I talk a lot about the holidays and how they can be stressful. It’s a regressive break — even if you’ve gotten your sh*t figured out as an adult, the holiday season really brings you back to a time where you weren’t the one in control. I have to remind myself that I need to do what’s right for me and it’s not always about meeting what I perceive are other people’s expectations of me. Jumping inside someone else’s head really stresses me out, so I try and do it as little as possible. 

TG: What are the signs that you’re starting to reach your tipping point? 

HH: My body’s response to stress is in my stomach. I get nauseous or I lose my appetite and the stress shuts down my stomach. I’m a real gastrointestinal stress carrier.

TG: What are the steps you take to positively work through that stress?

HH: Being kind to yourself is great, but it’s also very amorphous. The number one stress reducer for me is spending time with my cats — my emotional support animals. It relaxes me to spend time with them, to play with them. I wish I could bring them with me more when I travel, but I haven’t brought myself to be that much of a cat lady yet. 

Also, I try to avoid looking to other people to gauge how I’m feeling about myself. For me, it helps more to have the mental sticky note to ask myself, “Am I using another person’s accomplishments to belittle my own worth?” Then, through that awareness, I can let that go. If you’re the type of person who weighs their worth based off of another person’s accomplishments, you’re going to find stress no matter what industry you work in. And for me I’m only ever in competition with myself.

Read more of our mental health coverage here.

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