With bustling social calendars, end of the year projects nearing their deadlines, and upcoming travel plans, this time of year is more hectic than ever. Stress levels are high, diets are poor, and it can seem like you are barely keeping up with life. All of this can increase anxiety, depression, and slowly chip away at your overall mental health.
Holiday depression and anxiety start before Thanksgiving, and the body doesn’t get a break until the New Year. Be it the increased financial burden for travel and shopping, or attending parties and hosting meals, the holidays are physically and mentally draining. Expectations are high for planning events and giving gifts, but there is also the loneliness aspect for those without a good support system or loved ones. If you are experiencing any mental health challenges during the holidays, don’t be afraid to reach out to people, express your feelings, or employ the following tips.
Stick To A Routine
It is easy to over-extend yourself during the holidays. Making multiple commitments to different parties, due to the high influx of invitations, can be mentally taxing. This is why you need to stick to your routine, even if that means missing out on a few parties. The more you stick to your regular schedule, the more in control you’ll feel. If sticking to your routine keeps you from becoming anxious, miss that dinner you were invited to in order to maintain your schedule. Self-care is more important than anything.
Soak Up The Sun…When It Comes Out
Some people are lucky and experience many sunny days during the winter, while others are plagued by rainy days, snowstorms, and lack of sunshine. According to numerous studies, depressive disorders increase exponentially during the winter months. This is attributed to the lack of sunshine. Whenever it is possible, take a walk outside and soak up so much needed vitamin D. The combination of being in the sun and nature has been proven to reduce stress, improve concentration, lower levels of inflammation, and improve overall energy.
The materialistic nature of the holidays can drain your bank account, which in turn stresses you out. Rather than financially burdening yourself this year, set holiday budget limits to help you allocate funds for travel, food, gifts, and more. Write out exactly what you need to purchase to help yourself figure out expenses. If this is the year that you spend less on gifts, so be it. You can always make your own gifts to cut down the expense of gift giving, and you can spend a little more on a bigger meal with the family, focusing on love, thankfulness, and more during the holidays.
Don’t Rely On Drugs, Alcohol, Or Food
When you are depressed or anxious, it can be easy to convince yourself to take a pill or knock back a few drinks to feel better or relieve tension. According to mental health experts, it is better to relieve stress and anxiety via healthier outlets like exercise, meditation, talking to a therapist, or spending time with loved ones. Don’t make yourself reliant on drugs, alcohol, or food to make it through the holidays. Give yourself time to decompress and collect yourself for better mental health.
Get Sufficient Sleep
We cannot stress the importance of sleep enough, especially during the holidays. According to Psychology Today, sleep deprivation greatly affects your mood, slowly leading to an impaired mental state. When your sleep cycle is irregular and you aren’t sleeping at least seven hours every night, you run the risk of becoming physically and mentally drained.
Set Realistic Expectations
With all the commotion of the holidays and the approaching New Year, people can often reflect on their accomplishments, or lack thereof, from the past year. Some may think that they aren’t where they are “supposed to be” in life, or that they didn’t do enough during the year. Get out of your own head and be grateful for what you did accomplish. Don’t set yourself up for failure in the coming year either. Adjust your expectations and goals to make them more realistic, for example, going to the gym three times per week, or reading a book within the first three months of the year.
Managing mental health can be a tricky path to navigate because it is always challenging. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Professional services are available and friends are the best support system to have. Approach 2020 with mindful practices that will help you remain healthy throughout the year.