AS the holiday season approaches, friends and loved ones living with schizophrenia know how difficult it is keeping festive and happy. And buying the perfect gift is not the cause.People living with schizophrenia are often left feeling overwhelmed, having to meet with friends and family after a long time.This can cause them to consistently blame their lack of meaningful relationships on schizophrenia, which in turn causes their symptoms to flare up.Tips to manage the impact of the holidays for a person living with schizophrenia.1. Accepting the disorder — As with many mental disorders, accepting the diagnosis is the first step to effective treatment, recovery and coping. This, however, is easier said than done and the strongest encouragement to a person living with the disorder is support from loved ones.2. Communication with loved ones — Living with schizophrenia often leaves a person doubting whether family and friends care about them. This is largely due to one of the main symptoms of schizophrenia, delusional behaviour. One of the most effective coping methods is empatheticcommunication. It’s important for a person living with schizophrenia to remember that family and friends do care.3. Have realistic expectations — While the holidays should bring feelings of joy and happiness, it’s important to remember that each day is just another normal day. There is never a perfect day, and a person living with schizophrenia will face challenges, along with their loved ones. At times, a person with the disorder may feel challenged by their inner circle. And while taking a short break can help, they mustn’t isolate themselves, as that could worsen or trigger the symptoms.4. Seek professional help — It is common for people living with mental illness to seek help shortly after the holidays. However, bottling things up may leave a person with schizophrenia feeling overwhelmed. They should seek help as soon as possible to minimise the impact.If you or a loved one require help with symptoms of schizophrenia, visit schizophrenia24x7 for information and resources. — Supplied.