Even though the holiday season is regarded as a time of togetherness and love, many people experience holiday blues. While some sources of sadness may come from being separated from loved ones during holidays, the American Psychological Association issued a survey to unearth other common causes of strain on your mental health.
Nearly 38% of individuals polled said that stress was the number one contributing factor to their decreased mental wellness during the holidays.
Here at Allied Psychiatry and Mental Health, Dr. Hadi Estakhri is on a mission to support your mental health all year long. Don’t go into the next season with untreated anxiety or depression. Getting the right treatment can help protect your mental health during the holidays.
In the meantime, here are five additional tips for safeguarding your mental health during the holiday season.
1. Get enough sleep
Getting ample, quality sleep is essential for your physical and mental well-being.
Research shows sleep deprivation can increase rates of insomnia and severely impact your mood. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep in a cool, darkroom. You might also benefit from a white noise machine to block out household noises.
If you have a hard time falling asleep, avoid blue lights (TV screens, tablets, phones) for an hour or two before bed.
2. Create (and stick with) your schedule
For individuals with ADHD and other mental health conditions, sticking with a routine is important. When it comes to the holiday season, it’s very easy to detract from your normal routine, especially with incoming invitations to social events.
The National Alliance of Mental Health suggests sticking to your routine. Even if you can’t follow your routine for the entire day, stick with as much of it as possible. For example, continue to follow your morning routine, even if you have events later in the evening.
Most importantly, continue to stick with your medication schedule. You shouldn’t change or alter your medication schedule or dosage unless instructed to do so.
3. Create a budget
Stress has an enormous impact on your physical and mental well-being, and the holidays can certainly add financial stress to your list of concerns. To reduce finance-related stress, create a budget for holiday gift buying -- and then stick with your budget.
There is a plethora of research highlighting the benefits of exercise for your mental health. Exercise can lift your mood, reduce stress, and give you some well-deserved “you time” to decompress.
There are many ways to include exercise in your daily routine:
- Go for a walk around the block
- Go for a hike with your family
- Throw a football in the yard
- Take your dog to the dog park and play fetch
- Try an online exercise program from the comfort of your home
If you exercise outside, it’s even better. The experts at Harvard report that spending time in nature can also boost your mood.
5. Manage stress with healthy outlets
Despite your best efforts to eliminate stress, you’ll likely still experience some stress during the holidays. Remember, the key isn’t to eliminate all sources of stress (that’s impossible), but to reduce what stress you can and then manage the rest of it with soothing stress management techniques.
During holiday get-togethers, it might be tempting to relieve stress by pouring a drink, taking a pill, or even using food as a comfort. MentalHealth.gov suggests healthier stress-busting options like:
- Getting some fresh air
- Spending time with a friend or loved one
- Calling a friend or loved one
- Spending time doing art
- Reading a relaxing book
- Deep breathing
- Talking to a therapist
Making time for yourself to decompress and unwind -- without relying on alcohol, drugs, or food -- is a healthy way to protect your mental health.
If you’re struggling with addiction, depression, or anxiety as we approach the holidays, don’t hesitate to reach out. Call our Newport Beach, California office at 949-258-7135 or visit our website to schedule an appointment.