Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, many of us are experiencing the feelings that come along with celebrating the holiday season. This is a time of year for gathering with friends and family, reflecting upon all that we're grateful for, and spreading love and light to others. Sadly, not all of us are able to see the holiday season as such because it can trigger negative or painful emotions within us. Perhaps something traumatic happened in the past during the holiday season, or the loss of a loved one or constant in one's life becomes a bit more difficult to face during this time of the year. There are numerous reasons as to why the holidays can be difficult. Some of us may be wondering when we will have a family of our own if we're single during this time of year, as being surrounded by couples and families can be a big reminder of where we're not, but perhaps want to be, in life. Regardless of the reasons, this time of year can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. It can also bring up feelings of sadness we've been able to bury all year. According to a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64% of people who suffer from mental illness say their stress and symptoms are increased during the holidays. The silver lining is that there are ways to manage these feelings, and no one is alone in this. Since so many of us are facing increased levels of sadness or depression this time of year, it can help to have a strategy for combating it. And so without further ado, here are some tips for coping with feelings of depression and sadness this year.
Soak in the Sun
It's no secret that we're getting much less sun than we typically get during the spring and summer months. This can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency—having a direct impact on mental health and symptoms of depression. In order to compensate for this, it's imperative to ensure you're getting at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight each day. This isn't always easy to do in most places around the US during the holidays due to weather. There's typically a lot of rain, snow, cloudy days, and excuses to just want to pull the covers up over our heads in the morning and stay in bed. A UV sunlamp can help ensure you're getting enough Vitamin D each day. You may also want to do some traveling to a place where there's naturally more sun year-round such as San Diego, Mexico, or a tropical island. It's summertime in Australia right now, which may be enticing for some since the sunsets happen much later in the day. Whatever method of getting more sun resonates with you, embrace it. It's good for you.
It can be easy to fall into our own pity parties this time of year and really get lost in our heads with a sea of emotions. While it's important to acknowledge our feelings and not force ourselves to project something we're not feeling on the inside, it's also nice to take a little break from being in our heads, or focusing so much on ourselves and our own struggles. One of the best ways to do this is by focusing on the needs of others. No matter what it is that you're going through right now, there's always going to be someone who has it just a bit worse or is in need of something you can help provide. Blessing others during the holidays is one of the best ways to start feeling better. When you bless another person you're planting seeds of hope, love, and joy in their hearts and in yours. These feelings will grow over time and before you know it, you've completely changed the life of another person for the better. It will also help change you from the inside out. Be careful though, as this can become addicting and contagious. You may find yourself getting so involved in creating positive change that you end up leading an entire program for a charity with a team of friends joining in. This may sound like a dream for some, but others of us will have to learn when to say no and set boundaries so that we're not overexerting ourselves or spreading ourselves so thin that it backfires on any hope of decreasing stress, anxiety, etc.
Be Kind to Yourself
It can be very easy to get stuck in negative thought patterns, engage in negative self-talk, or give into insecurities. We may even become hard on or critical of ourselves when we're reminded that we haven't achieved everything in life that we're hoping for as of yet. There's also a lot of guilt and stress that surrounds holiday eating and indulgences. The best thing to do is to just be kind to yourselves. Oftentimes the dialogue we feed ourselves is harsher than anything we'd say to a friend or loved one. In treating ourselves like a dear friend or family member we're giving ourselves the kindness we need to just breathe and get through this season. It's not the end of the world if you haven't found that special person yet, if you're still in the process of building your career, if you're still healing from some past traumas, restarting an aspect of your life, or if you decided to eat one too many treats. Acknowledge how far you've come thus far, and celebrate your progress and successes. By focusing on what you have and what you're grateful for rather than anything you feel is lacking, you're training your brain to automatically think more positively. This can have a huge impact on your overall mental health and approach to life.
Hold Onto Healthy Habits
While it's important not to beat yourself up for indulging in a few holiday treats, it's also important not to throw in the towel completely and forget about the healthy habits you've established throughout the year. Keep going to that yoga class or on those runs, and don't forget to eat your veggies. These things will help you to manage any feelings of sadness or depression that arise a bit more. It will also help you to have an easier transition back into your routine should you get derailed for a few days to indulge in a few holiday festivities.
Take a Time-Out
When things become intense, it's imperative to take some time for yourself. If you're at a holiday gathering and something triggers you, or you're simply feeling a bit stressed from the overall demands of the season, allow yourself some time to just step away and be alone to process everything, decompress, and just breathe for 15 minutes or so. It may also help to plan a time-out from responsibilities in your daily schedule. Make some time to indulge in a nice long bubble bath, hit the spa, go see a movie you've been wanting to see, or take some time to journal, listen to your favorite music, or just process your feelings internally.
Honor Your True Feelings
While you take time for yourself, there may be negative feelings and emotions that arise. While it may be tempting to try to mask these feelings or hide them away, this isn't healthy and can affect overall mental health. Allow yourself time to cry if you feel like crying. Allow yourself to feel, and to process your emotions. Perhaps you'll want to talk to a therapist about what's coming up for you, write in a journal, express yourself through a creative outlet, or talk to a trusted friend. Whatever you choose to do, honor your feelings and allow them to pass. Letting them pile up on the inside will cause them to leak out onto others and can influence your behavior in interesting ways.
Get Your Micronutrients
There isn't enough to be said about the importance of a sufficient balance of micronutrients in your diet for optimal brain and body function. This means that you should be getting all of your essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids daily. Getting the right blend of micronutrients can be a bit of a challenge if you're sourcing them solely from the foods you eat. One great way to ensure you're maintaining the appropriate nutrient balance is by taking a micronutrient supplement. The best supplements on the market are designed for optimal absorption. Studies have found this method to be an effective tool for managing depression, anxiety, and stress. If you'd like some extra support for coping with sadness or depression this holiday season, help is here. Give a bottle of Focus Essentials a try and if it doesn't help, you'll get your money back.