According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of Americans experience heightened stress during the holiday season, leading to physical illness, depression, anxiety, and even substance abuse. Those already suffering from mental illness noted that their conditions worsened around the holidays. This heightened sense of stress is due to a variety of factors, including a lack of time, financial pressure, and family gatherings. However, there are ways in which we can prepare ourselves and deflect some of the stress we experience during the holiday season. Our experts at HHM Health have identified common issues that arise during this season and ways to address them.
Lacking the “Holiday Spirit”
During the holidays, it can be embarrassing to be around people who are happy but don’t share your happiness. If you feel like you have to match their happiness, you may feel left out. During this time, it is important to recognize that you are not required to feel happy or joyful. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer through these same feelings around the holidays. If you can, hang out with people who feel the same way, and try to deal with your feelings instead of numbing them out with alcohol or other drugs.
There is Little to No Sunlight
Less exposure to natural light actually has a negative impact on people, causing them to feel more depressed and anxious during the winter. To reduce these feelings, try to get as much sunlight as possible throughout the day. You can feel happier and more energized by working near a window, eating lunch outside, or putting in warm, bright lights in your home. Light winter candles and plug in twinkling lights for a reason. The winter is also a perfect time to work on quieter projects and activities due to the slower pace of the season, which includes knitting, writing, baking, etc. These projects help clear one’s head, allowing you to become more relaxed.
You’re Feeling Isolated
While we tend to be surrounded by our loved ones during the holiday season, the feeling of isolation may set in if you are away from loved ones, and you may find it hard to reach out. During this time, it is important to remind yourself of the people, places, and things that make you feel happy. Scheduling a call or video chat with friends and family on a regular basis will not only help reduce this feeling but also reduce the difficulty of reaching out in a time of need. Living in the technological age, there are so many ways to reach out to your loved ones. Holiday cards, emails, and social media are also excellent ways to stay in touch regardless of distance.
The holidays are known as a time of giving. However, please do not forget to care for yourself during this time as well. Keeping a balanced diet, following a moderate exercise routine, and getting plenty of sleep are great ways to take care of yourself. Do not get carried away with distractions and stressors, as you’ll lose track of yourself and your basic needs.
We value your whole health. HHM Health provides accessible, affordable, and compassionate care. If you continue to struggle with your mental health, we strongly advise seeing one of HHM Health’s mental health professionals or one of our primary care physicians, as we can work with you to figure out what is wrong and what we can do to help you.