Mental Health & the Holidays: 5 Tips to Keep You Balanced
Seasonal depression hits me pretty hard each year. Truth be told, there are days where I struggle even if I’m practicing all my rituals… and that’s ok! If you’re reading this right now, please know that the ups and downs are a normal part of life and if the Holiday Season is tough on your mental health, you’re not alone. There are so many reasons why some of us get a touch or maybe a punch of the blues during the same time each year. As silly as it seems, the sun setting early and extended darkness does do a number on us, as does the cold. For some, the holidays are tough because we don’t get along with family and for others they’re tough because they’re missing family that is no longer around. Whatever the trigger, the way you feel during this time is valid and it’s important to not shame yourself. It’s also important to continue (or start) little rituals to help you cope.
*All advice is based on my personal experience, please consult a physician before implementing health advice into your life.
- Keep Moving
It’s dark early, it’s cold – motivation to workout sometimes falls. I get it. Happens to me literally every year. A couple weeks of being a total depressed loaf of a human and then I do something small like a 30 minute walk each morning. Eventually, you’ll motivate yourself back into a routine. Or, just commit to the 30 minutes a day and be proud of that. Working out releases endorphins, a well as dopamine and serotonin which help elevate and maintain your mood. Now, listen… I know it’s hard to get started again once you’ve been out of it for a while. When you feel like this, remember that any movement is better than no movement.
- Do What You Want to Do
That pressure to people please during the holidays is always high, but I want to encourage you to do what’s best for you even if that means disappointing others. When faced with the choice of disappointing yourself or someone else, choose someone else. You have to learn how to say ‘no’ and hold the boundary. If your perfect holiday would be better spent in pajamas, with Chinese, and movies — DO THAT. If you would rather not give or receive gifts, make it known. If you’ve been going hard on personal projects, feel burnout and need a break, take the break. My point is that your wellness is more important than anything else that’s going on. There’s not forward motion if you’re not well, so learn to pause if needed.
- Fuel Up
Enjoy all the yummy food and treats, but realize that when you go overboard on sugar, it has a negative affect on your mental health after awhile (not to mention that it causes inflammation in the body). Try keeping most of your meals as normal as possible and when you indulge, make sure you’re eating your veggies. There are a handful of supplements that not only help your body process mood, but also improve your mood. Here are some of my favorites:
Cinnamon – helps regulate blood sugar
Probiotics – aids digestion (and studies show there is a link between gut health and mental health)
Black Pepper – aids absorption of vitamins and minerals
Magnesium – natural relaxant and mood stabilizer
Turmeric – anti-inflammatory and mood booster
4. Create New Traditions
Sometimes when we lose people, the things we looked forward to the most become too painful to do. If you feel like you’ve lost the holiday magic, it may be time to start creating new magic that’s in alignment with where you’re at in the present moment. Last year, I made and decorated sugar cookies for the first time. It was something I’ve always wanted to do and because I was one of those people that felt like holiday magic had died, I tried it to see if it was create a spark. It did. I can’t wait to do it again this year and maybe invite some people over to do it with me. If you’ve felt a calling to create new energy during this time of year, answer the call! I promise you won’t be disappointed.
5. Get it Out
There’s no shame in therapy. If you feel like you need someone to talk to, please find someone that can facilitate a safe space for you. Keeping everything inside will poison you energetically. I know therapy is expensive, so if it’s outside of your means, look into support communities. Journaling is also another great way to get what’s swirling around in your heart and head out. Start with acknowledging how you’re feeling, throw in some affirmations and gratitude, and see where it gets you.
The important thing to realize is that we have to take action in some way to help ourselves feel better. Whether it’s a walk, a boundary, a change to our food, trying something new, or simply talking or writing it out, we have to DO something.
If you feel the blues creeping in, that’s ok. It’s valid. Just don’t unpack and stay there. There are always brighter days ahead and you’ve come out the other side before… and you will do it again.