Many people experience feelings of anxiety or depression during the holiday season, even if they don’t struggle with mental illness year-round. A lot of seasonal factors can trigger these feelings, including less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, increase in alcohol intake at social gatherings, inability to be with friends or family, and more. Any one of those triggers alone can seriously affect your mood, which is why everyone should take extra care around this time to avoid the holiday blues.
What are the holiday blues?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the holiday blues are temporary feelings of anxiety or depression associated with extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even memories that accompany this time of year. Feelings of loneliness, sadness, fatigue, tension and a sense of loss are all commonly reported.
This holiday season, like the previous year, it may be difficult to distinguish between our regular amount of stress and extra stress from the season. It’s valuable to practice mindfulness and actively pay attention to changes in our mood, so we can bring awareness to what causes us undo stress. Short-term problems can lead to long-term mental health conditions. It’s important to take time to support your wellbeing.
How to mentally prepare for the holidays
It’s amazing what a little perspective and preparedness can do to help us enjoy the holidays more with fewer expectations. NAMI offers these 10 tips to help with holiday anxiety or depression.
- Stick to normal routines as much as possible
- Get enough sleep or rest
- Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate yourself
- Eat and drink in moderation and don’t drink alcohol if you’re feeling down
- Get exercise, even if it’s taking a short walk
- Make a to-do list and keep things simple
- Set reasonable expectations and goals for holiday activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, attending parties or sending holiday cards
- Set a financial budget for holiday activities
- Listen to music
- Practice patience by taking things week by week and day by day
Shift your mindset this holiday season
The main difference between the holiday blues and clinical depression or anxiety is that the blues are temporary. Focus on the short-term aspect so you can visualize a path through.
We often cause ourselves the most amount of stress this time of year. Consider the fact that your family and friends don’t have the same expectations that you create for yourself. The hard truth is, most times, they won’t even notice if you don’t make that pie from scratch or decorate your house with 10 more strands of lights. It’s OK to take shortcuts or ask for help so you can reserve your energy for the people and the memories that matter most.
Seeking help is often the answer
Just as we seek to normalize asking for help in our personal lives, partnerships in our professional lives are equally important. Valley Schools has been helping public sector employers, like school districts and government agencies, improve the wellbeing of their employees for over 15 years. If you’re looking for increased support in planning and budgeting for your employee benefits package with a focus on wellness, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Learn more about what Valley School can offer your organization today!