Mature couple for Christmas at home. They are standing in front of window and dancing.
Published On: December 4, 2015|Categories: Mental Health|

The holidays bring opportunities for a host of feelings, from grief to joy, sorrow to elation. For someone who struggles with depression or another mood disorder, the holidays can exacerbate negative feelings. Teens who face mental health challenges may especially struggle over the holiday break and feel isolated or unsafe at home.

The holiday season can be emotionally distressing and individuals may struggle with increased triggers to substance use, self-harm, suicidal ideation and other harmful behaviors. The holiday blues and mental health aren’t just a passing season and require professional intervention. If you’re feeling hopeless this time of year, here’s what you can do.

Holiday mental health tips

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 in 5 adults in the United States struggles with a mental health disorder. This ratio is the same for young people, too. Psychological conditions are prevalent, but that doesn’t mean a person is fated to deal with dysfunctional symptoms. Here are some ways you can manage depression during the holiday season.

1. What are the holiday blues

The meaning of “holiday blues” is important to gauge whether intervention is necessary or self-care can manage your distress. Often people wonder, “Do I have depression?” or “Do I need therapy?” If you’re unsure whether you’re facing the holiday blues or something more serious, like depression or bipolar disorder, your best bet is to have a healthcare provider conduct an assessment and follow a recommendation.

If you think your holiday blues are a mental health condition, you may be facing major depressive disorder. If you’re experiencing a decreased interest in activities you used to enjoy, agitation, restlessness or trouble concentrating, you may be dealing with something serious. Check out additional symptoms for depression listed by the Mayo Clinic.

2. Practice self-care

The holiday season can feel overwhelming. One of the best ways to combat stress is to take some time for yourself to engage in self-care practices. Whether you choose to spend an afternoon baking or partake in a yoga class while you have some time off work or school, it’s critical to slow down and rest when you feel the most busy.

Self-care activities can be modified to fit your preferences and abilities, and many are relatively inexpensive or free. Remember that self-care exercises shouldn’t be conducted simply to check an item off a to-do list, but should allow you to feel unrushed and present in the current moment.

3. Give back to others

Giving your time and talent can help you feel fulfilled this time of year. Holiday season depression can make your days feel dark and empty and the best way to fill them is to bring light to others. Consider volunteering for a local organization that you care about, or asking for donations for a charity instead of gifts for Christmas or Hanukkah.

4. Spend time with people who make you feel cared for

The holidays bring many social obligations, such as work parties and family celebrations. However, it’s important to assess which events contribute to a negative mood and which gatherings lift your spirits. You may find that skipping a holiday party is worthwhile, even if it goes against the social norm. Supporting your own mental health and fighting the holiday blues means taking care of yourself.

An easy way to distinguish between helpful and harmful events is to gauge the crowd that will be attending each event. If the majority of the people attending a party have your best interests at heart and you feel cared for in their presence, it’s a good idea to go. Moreover, remember that self-isolation can also be detrimental to your well-being, so don’t make excuses when socializing can have a positive effect.

5. Take care of your body

If you’re feeling in a fog, your emotions may be impacted by the way you’re treating your body. Many people set resolutions as the year begins to drink enough water, exercise and eat healthily. As the year goes on, our aspirations slip aside, making way for seemingly more pressing matters.

Take the time to reprioritize your health and focus on sleep, food and daily movement. Aim to make small improvements rather than expecting perfection, and as one habit becomes second nature, add another into your normal routine.

Help for holiday depression

If you’ve struggled with feeling down as the winter months pass by and holiday mental health tips aren’t cutting it for you, reach out for help with High Focus Centers. Don’t let negative thought patterns and self-destructive behavior go untreated. For your own well-being, it’s essential to reach out for help if you or a loved one are in a difficult season. Call High Focus Centers today to access the care you need.

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