As the holiday season approaches, many people feel a sense of dread and worry about what will happen. The holidays can be difficult for those with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. They’re often riddled with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and sadness. For some, the thought of going to an office party or family gathering is enough to bring on a panic attack. It doesn’t have to stay that way. Here, we will explain six tips that will help you manage your mental health around the holidays so you can enjoy it just like everyone else.
1. Don’t Try to Do Too Much
The holidays are a time for celebration, which means spending time with family and friends. The downside of this is that socializing will probably keep you away from your most important task: taking care of yourself. It’s easy to get bogged down with holiday preparations and spend all your free time shopping or baking. You may even volunteer to help out at your child’s school or take on extra shifts at work. While it’s admirable to want to be a part of the festivities, please don’t overdo it. Make sure you set aside some time for yourself every day, even if it’s just an hour. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
2. Get Professional Help
If you’ve been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, you should consult a mental health professional. Licensed psychologists can explain what high functioning depression is to patients and make additional diagnoses if necessary. Don’t wait until the last minute. Getting treatment in advance will ensure that your recovery process is not hindered and doesn’t interfere with your schedule and family obligations. If seeing someone during the holidays sounds like too much of an inconvenience, don’t worry. Many therapists offer teletherapy, which means you can see them from the comfort of your own home.
3. Be Realistic About the Holidays
Some people may dread holidays because they don’t have much family or friends. They might also feel inadequate compared to others who seem happier and better adjusted. Unfortunately, this can escalate into a pattern of negative thinking that makes it difficult to enjoy anything. Instead of torturing yourself by comparing your life with other people’s, accept that holidays are a time to be happy and make the most of them. If you’re feeling lonely, celebrate by appreciating what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t.
4. Avoid Alcohol and Drug Abuse
While drinking may seem like an easy way to deal with your problems, alcohol worsens depression. It lowers the brain’s mood and makes it even harder for you to fight off negative thoughts. What’s worse is that it can cause seizures in people already suffering from conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Using drugs during the holidays is also a bad idea. While some may argue that they’re technically not getting high, it’s just a matter of time before your mood starts to worsen as the effects wear off. If you or a loved one find yourselves turning to drugs and alcohol to escape holiday stress, consider addiction treatment as an option. While not every instance of drug and alcohol abuse calls for intervention, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Eat Well and Exercise
It’s no secret that exercise is good for the body and the mind. Not only does it help you stay physically healthy, but it can also boost your mood and improve your thinking process. During the holidays, it’s easy to overindulge in unhealthy foods. This can quickly lead to weight gain and health problems. Make sure you eat a balanced diet full of nutritious food, especially fruits and vegetables. Try walking or cycling instead of driving if you need some physical activity but can’t get to the gym.
6. Get Enough Sleep
The holiday season is filled with excitement, and you might find yourself staying up late so you can chat with family members on the phone or watch your favorite movie. Unfortunately, this will also affect your sleeping habit. Not getting enough sleep will only worsen existing health problems such as depression. Set a daily bedtime that will allow you to get eight hours of rest every night.
The holidays can be a challenging time for people with mental health problems. However, by following these tips, you can make sure that you stay healthy and enjoy the festivities. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There are plenty of people who are willing to lend a hand.