How to Stay Mentally Healthy During the Holiday Season
The holiday season can be a magical time of year for many people. However, if you are living with depression, anxiety, or any other type of mental illness this can be a stressful time of the year. We look forward to visiting loved ones and friends, but during the holidays it can almost feel like we are forced to do things we might not want to do. For instance, if you live with a crippling form of social anxiety you may feel “forced” or pressured into attending holiday parties and having “fun”.
My best advice is to plan ahead. What are some ways you can stay mentally healthy during the holidays? Please read on.
- Continue Seeing Your Therapist
It is crucial to keep all scheduled appointments with your therapist. If you have travel plans, be sure to tell him or her so you can reschedule for the next available day or time slot. Do not cancel your appointments. Your therapist will always be there to support you. If you have an argument with a well-meaning family member, or if anything else stressful comes up during this time, you will still have your appointment. It may also be wise to book an appointment with your psychiatrist as well; in case you need any medication adjustments.
- Try Meditating or Practice Mindfulness
Meditating can be an extremely comforting practice. There are different types of meditation, for instance mindfulness and guided meditation are quite popular among those who need help “silencing their mind”. Whatever type you choose, it will help center and ground you. It is now proven that meditation can help with stress, insomnia, depression, and pain. I personally practice guided meditation. It only takes ten minutes, and I end up feeling much more relaxed and calmer once I have done it. You can also practice a calming form of exercise such as Tai Chi.
- Refrain from substance use
While it can be tempting to have an extra drink while out with friends, please know your limit. It is common to drink more or smoke more during the holiday season, however it isn’t the wisest choice. Once you’ve reached your limit, know when to stop. Alcohol and other drugs will likely exacerbate your anxiety or depression. As always, when you are out celebrating, don’t drink and drive.
- Let there be light
Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD. With Daylight Savings Time now over with, we now have much darker days. If you are suffering from SAD or just miss having more sunlight, consider getting a fluorescent lamp.
- Set realistic goals
If you are like most, the holidays can also be a time for reflection. The year is now coming to an end, which for many of us, can lead us to start thinking about the things we have and haven’t accomplished. Maybe you made a resolution to exercise more or become physically fit. We must remember to set realistic goals. For example, if you wish to exercise more, consider establishing a more realistic routine. Instead of working out at the gym every day, consider starting slow. Start going once a week, and then increase to twice a week, and so on.
The holidays can be a stressful time for most, but if you have a mental illness consider putting a wellness plan into place. You can follow these guidelines or consider adding your own. Remember to set realistic goals, practice self-care, and continue with your treatment plan. If you are dealing with a mental illness, please know you are not alone. If you are in need of counseling, give us a call. (888) 203-0113. We are here to help.