12/28/2016 0 Comments
Guest Blog by Jennifer Scott
Guest Mental Health and Wellness Blogger Jennifer Scott joins us this week to share valuable information on coping with stress, anxiety and depression during the holiday season. Jennifer Scott has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager and ever since she has overcome it, she has been an advocate for opening up about mental health.
For more information on mental health by Jennifer head to her website SpiritFinder.org.
The holidays are a difficult time of the year for many people. People who suffer from clinical depression and anxiety may experience an increase in symptoms during the busy holiday season, but even those who don’t have a formal diagnosis may experience feelings of depression and anxiety during the holiday season for a myriad of reasons.
The holiday season tends to make us think about traditions and time spent in the past with friends and loved ones near and far, and often depression is triggered around this time of year as people grow melancholy thinking about days gone by. If you’re struggling with feelings of sadness or stress around the holidays, there are a few ways to combat your symptoms.
Focus on Creating New Traditions
Traditions are lovely, but who says you’re forced to stick with them? If traditions are making you depressed or anxious, create new ones. There’s no tradition police waiting to take you away if you don’t do the things you’ve always done. Don’t feel guilty about letting go of things that no longer bring you joy.
Don’t Overbook Yourself
While regular socialization can be beneficial for combating the symptoms of depression, overbooking yourself will surely create additional stress. Do stay active and enjoy gatherings with family, friends, and coworkers, but avoid the trap of trying to make a stop at three different events in the same evening.
It’s hard to say no, but reflecting on the invitations you’ve received and saying yes only to the invitations that will bring you the most happiness and positive energy will help you stay active enough to avoid isolation but not so active that you’re reaching the point of exhaustion.
Look to a Furry Friend for Comfort
Dogs can have a powerful impact on human emotions and overall well-being, often just by being the loveable creatures they are. Dogs specially trained as service dogs offer even more benefits to people living with a physical or mental health condition, providing unconditional love and acceptance while also performing some valuable services such as detecting impending diabetic shock or seizures, or even retrieving life-saving medication if their handler is seriously ill. Whether a service dog, an adoptee from your local animal shelter, or simply a taking on a sitting gig, a dog can help to lift your spirits even on the worst days.
Don’t Neglect Your Usual Healthy Routines
If you typically stick to a regular exercise regimen, a case of the holiday blues can make it easy to stay in bed rather than get up and hit the gym. The more you stick to your usual healthy routines, such as healthy eating habits, getting adequate sleep, and regular physical activity, the better you’ll feel and the better able your body and mind to fend off the symptoms of depression and anxiety that creep up leading into the holidays.
And even if you are sticking to a healthy diet and regular exercise, you might want to add taking a Vitamin D supplement to your holiday and winter daily routine. In winter especially, it’s easy for us to become Vitamin D deficient because we aren’t getting enough sunlight, which can lead to depression symptoms. Taking a supplement can help you improve your mood. Check with your doctor or a nutritionist to see if a supplement is the right choice for you.
Focus on the Stuff That Matters
It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of holiday shopping and finding the perfect gifts for friends and family, but too much focus on the superficial aspects of the holidays could leave you feeling disappointed and stressed out about not finding that must-have gift or having the funds to buy the gifts you’d love to give.
Instead, remember the reason for the season and learn to recognize the negative thought patterns that can send you into a downward spiral. Think about the time that you get to spend with friends and loved ones you don’t normally get to see that often.
If there are children in your life, watch the magic of the season come to life on their faces and in their expressions of awe and wonder. The holidays are about something much more important and much more meaningful than the generic ideas that the commercialization of the holidays have cultivated. Take care of yourself, learn to find the deeper meaning in every situation, and stay active without overbooking yourself to give your body and mind the tools they need to combat the negative thoughts and feelings that plague you during this time of year.