How to Stay Mentally Healthy During the Holidays

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Digital Health for Mental Wellness
Medisafe is launching a new blog series focusing on the role of digital health and its use to support better mental health and wellbeing to enhance patients’ lives. This is the first piece in the series. 

The holiday season is often associated with bright lights, celebrations, and a season of joy and cheer. But for many, it’s a time of increased stress, anxiety and depression in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. 2020 presents some unique challenges with the inability to gather with loved ones due to COVID-19, creating feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

For those who are living with a mental illness or even suffering from seasonal depression, mental health can temporarily worsen around this time of year.  According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 64% of people with a diagnosed mental illness find that the holidays make their condition worse. The pressure of trying to do everything, planning the perfect holiday, traveling to visit family, meeting those year-end deadlines and the financial burdens of holiday shopping, can be enough to send anyone into a tailspin. 

While depression can happen at any time, this year’s socially distanced holiday season may cause worsening symptoms. But there are some ways to keep on top of your mental health and start the new year in healthy head space:

Stay Connected

Although the holiday season can be busy with additional activities, it’s important to maintain medical and therapy appointments. During COVID-19, stress levels are high for everyone and forced isolation or limited outings can compound feelings of anxiety. If possible, keep scheduled appointments so a medical professional can help walk through any issues that may come up, and provide additional support.  

Be Kind to Yourself 

During the holidays, there is a lot of attention on what presents to get for others, who is going to host holiday celebrations, how groups of people will come together. But all this attention on others doesn’t mean it’s a time to forego self-care. Be sure to take time out to rest, recharge, and reduce anxiety. If an event or shopping trips become overwhelming, don’t feel the need to tackle it all at once. 

Manage Medications 

The holidays are often a time when people forego their medications, whether as a result of accidentally missing a dose or deciding to stop taking them altogether. But for those living with mental illness, rapid changes in medications can negatively impact your health and create complications during times of anxiety. While shifting schedules and various events throughout the holidays can make it harder to stay on a medication regimen, digital drug companions can help to keep you on track – regardless of what comes up.  

Soak Up the Sun  

Some struggle with depression during the winter months because of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Exposure to bright lights, including fluorescent lights, can help ease symptoms. Even for those without this form of depression, walking outside in the sun can be an effective centering and calming tool. Spending time in nature can help improve mental health, providing stress relief, better concentration, lower levels of inflammation and improved mental energy.

Set Realistic Expectations

Another major source of anxiety, stress and depression around the holidays can be examining accomplishments from the past year. 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 talking a walk three times a week rather than vowing to do CrossFit every day.

The added stress and uncertainty of living in a pandemic can be hard for everyone, and the added stress of the holidays can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. While the struggle can feel isolating, there are several ways to protect your mental health and maintain self-care routines to have a safe and healthy to bid adieu to 2020. 

 

Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.