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Filed under Lifestyle, Opinion

Shea’s Health Corner: Stress management tips for the holidays

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With the holidays right around the corner, it can be a difficult time for those who have lost loved ones, are going through rough times, or are having difficulties with seasonal depression/anxiety. Managing your mental health through this holiday season is important in order to maintain a healthy mindset and to allow you to enjoy the holidays to the fullest. Below are some helpful tips to keep a healthy mindset during the holiday season.

 

Stay in Therapy:

Although the holiday season is overwhelmingly busy, do not cancel your therapy sessions to make time for other activities. The holidays can bring up past experiences that you may feel uncomfortable about. If you can, keep your scheduled therapy sessions to ensure you have built-in time to explore anything that comes up. It is important to see a therapist as they can help you to learn new strategies for situations specific to the holidays, and help guide you through these difficult times.

 

Mindfulness:

Mindfulness can be a valuable mental wellness tool. Certain practices can be particularly helpful if you are traveling or running on an unbalanced schedule. Make gratitude a part of your routine, meditate when needed, increase your awareness, and take control of your thoughts. Try to implement these things on a day-to-day basis to see results of a more positive mind set.

 

Don’t Rely on Drugs and Alcohol:

Avoid using drugs or alcohol for comfort. While the idea of escaping reality can be appealing, substance use will ultimately worsen your issues. When you feel you need a relaxation aid, you can instead turn to a mindfulness tactic or other healthy coping mechanisms such as slow deep breathing, walking, and doing activities you enjoy to get your mind off the urge.

 

Soak up the Sun:

Soaking up the sun is always a good way to let your mental health worries fly away and seek a better tomorrow. Getting some much needed sun/fresh air helps decreases symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress; and lower levels of inflammation and improve mental energy. For this time of year, going to the gym, and getting out to do  activities you enjoy, are ways of improving your mental health. But remember that during the winter months, it is still important to use sunscreen as the rays of the sun are just as damaging as they are during the summer.

 

Set Realistic Expectations:

Another major source of anxiety, stress, and depression around the holidays can be scrutinizing unmet goals  from the past year. As seasonal depression often stems from anxiety and stress, focusing on keeping these two things out of your life is a good way to maintain a healthy mind.  Some may experience negative feelings over not being at a place they feel they “should be” in life. Get yourself out of this space by adjusting expectations and setting realistic goals. For example, if you’re trying to establish an exercise routine, try setting a goal of taking a walk three times a week rather than vowing to do CrossFit every day. While the struggle can feel isolating, remember that you are far from alone. Seek help from professional mental health services, maintain your self-care routines, and include mindfulness practices into your days as you approach 2019.

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