Happy Holidays! 5 Tips for a Mentally Healthy Holiday Season

With the holidays approaching many students, faculty, and staff are counting down the days until time off and hopefully some rest and relaxation. For many, the holidays are a joyous time of year with numerous things to give thanks for and celebrate as we prepare to enter a new year. For others, the holidays can be a more challenging time. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a diagnosable disorder, with an estimated 10-20% of recurring depression cases following a seasonal pattern. Regardless we can all stay mindful of 5 steps to take to increase the happy to our holidays.

  1. Eat, Drink, and be Merry… in Moderation

While food can provide comfort and bring families together, it can easily be a crutch to alleviate stress and provide immediate endorphins.  Alcohol is a depressant, which means we might think drinking takes away all of the negative emotions but in fact, it can contribute to feelings of depression. Try to be mindful throughout the holiday season and keep portions reasonable and cocktails minimal.

  1. Have Boundaries

None of us is born assertive. The ability to set and sustain healthy boundaries takes practice and perseverance. We can negatively affect our health when we spend too much money, stretch ourselves too thin with obligations, or feel that we cannot set limits. When we are mindful of the limits to our time and mental energy, we can be more present and engaged with loved ones.

  1. Take Care of you

Tis the season for rest and relaxation! Each of us has different self-care needs, so take stock of what truly helps you to recharge those mental and physical batteries. Most of the time it is focusing on the basics; good sleep, proper nutrition, exercise, and time doing the activities you truly enjoy.

  1. Spend Time with People

A typical behavior associated with depression is isolation. For some it is easy to get together with loved ones, for others it is more of a challenge due to geographical distance, or family dynamics causing more stress than benefit. If spending time with family is not an option, reach out to friends, neighbors or co-workers to celebrate. Also look for a volunteer opportunity to assist those less fortunate and connect with others who are in a giving spirit.

  1. Practice Mindfulness

Many students will be experiencing some anticipatory anxiety, whether it be around the pressures and demands of the upcoming semester, boards, or coming close to graduation and the next big steps in life. Recent research has indicated that the best approach to managing anxiety around future “news” and unknown outcomes is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of observing your own thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness assists us with staying more in the present moment and less frantic about future or past events. For suggestions around how to practice mindfulness, check out the Behavioral Health Department’s Director of Behavioral Health Education and Research, Dr. Krepps’ recent blog post on mindfulness or this helpful website: Mindful.org.

To learn more about the Behavioral Health Department or to request an appointment, visit us! Behavioral Health