Another year is winding down, and that means a series of big holidays—including but not limited to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve—are on their way. That might have an impact on your mental health.
For many folks, the arrival of the holidays is great news. After all, the holidays are a time of gatherings with family and friends for shared celebrations. You might be looking forward to these gatherings yourself.
Of course, for other folks, the holidays can be hard—especially if they don’t feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel. You might be worried about the upcoming season yourself.
And plenty of folks land right in the middle. They both look forward to and dread the holidays to one degree or another. You might fall into that category yourself.
Navigating the holiday season when you struggle with a mental health disorder like anxiety, depression, or a trauma-centered issue can be difficult. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can employ to make the season brighter for yourself. We have written about several of these strategies in the past, and here we offer them in a repackaged roundup. Think of it as our regifting of some key advice related to your mental health during the holidays.
The Two Halves of Thanksgiving
In a blog post titled “Celebrate Thanksgiving with Some Thanks and Some Giving,” we offered the following tips for Turkey Day and the days on either side of it..
In the days ahead of the holiday, you might consider taking some small index cards (or you could start a journal) and writing one thing you are thankful for on each one. It can be something big…or something small…You could also make a card for each person you will be spending time with over the holiday—writing down one thing about them that you are grateful for or that makes you smile.
Once your set of cards is complete, try carrying some or all of the cards in your pocket or purse when you are headed out to holiday events. If you find yourself in a stressful situation that is triggering anxiety, for example … you can take out a card or two and quickly remind yourself of the good things in your life…
Thanksgiving is also a great time to focus on serving. The giving part of Thanksgiving is just as important as the thanks portion. And there are so many ways to give—from volunteering at a pantry or shelter to simply making a grocery run for a neighbor or older relative. Finding ways—large or small—to give to others is not only kind; it also supports your mental health…
The Gift of Good Food Choices
In an entry titled “It’s the Holidays, and We Are in the Mood to Talk About Food,” we shared some ideas about finding balance during the holiday season. We talked about complex carbs, lean proteins, good fats, leafy greens, and colorful produce. We also wrote about the positive benefits of drinking lots of water:
Staying hydrated is extremely important for your mental health, and water is the drink that delivers hydration the best. And focusing on water has a couple of other advantages related to mental health. First, it does not contain any sugar, which means your moods will not be subject to rushes and crashes. Second, it does not contain any caffeine, which means you can maintain a healthy sleep routine without the disruption of the stimulant. Good sleep, of course, goes hand-in-hand with good mental health.
You don’t have to give up every peppermint mocha or mug of hot chocolate, but being aware of what you are drinking and when you are drinking it can be a good step toward regulating your mood and supporting your mental well-being.
Resolve to Stick with Some Resolutions
In a blog entry titled “Set Some New Year’s Resolutions Around Your Mental Health,” we made a number of suggestions, including proposing that you reduce your screen time:
You will notice that we are suggesting you reduce your screen time—not necessarily that you eliminate it altogether. Take social media, for example. There is a big difference between using Facebook as a way to keep up with friends and family and using it to doomscroll or engage with political content. Perhaps you could resolve to close your social media app each time you catch yourself scrolling mindlessly.
Alternately, you might consider setting a time each evening when you will power down your devices. Screen time close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep—and getting less quality sleep can lead to a downturn in your mental health.
The Gifts Keep Coming—Most Holiday Content
Peak View Can Get You on the Path to Better Mental Health
No matter the time of year, the staff of Peak View Behavioral Health is ready and able to help you improve your mental health and to maintain those improvements over time. Give yourself the gift of better well-being by connecting with our Colorado Springs facility for evidence-based, personalized care delivered with empathy, respect, and the understanding that your story and needs are unique to you.