During the holiday season, the healthcare industry sees an uptick in mental health inquiries. Researchers believe this is due to a variety of stressors such as:
- Unrealistic Expectations
- Over-commercialization of holiday times
- Financial Stress
- Inability to be with one’s family and friends
With a global pandemic still looming, many families are opting to pass on gatherings this year. This can increase feelings of loneliness and depression. Reducing, eliminating, or finding creative ways to deal with holiday-specific demands on your time, energy, and emotions is important and working with a therapist or accessing other resources on coping with depression may help.
Your A&M System benefits include mental health resources if you are ever in need of them. ComPsych GuidanceResources provides guidance on work/life balance topics such as financial stress, mental health, marriage and family relationships, grief counseling, and more. They prepared a Healthy Holidays toolkit to help you stay cheery through the holiday season.
Go to Guidanceresources.com and register under your institution or agency listing. Use code ‘TAMUS’. They suggest these coping tips to help manage your feelings of depression during and after the holidays:
- Talk to a professional. If the blues you are feeling linger for several weeks and are interfering with your ability to enjoy life and function effectively, seek help. A therapist can assist you in exploring your feelings. You can talk to a behavioral health specialist on MDLIVE as well!
- Find support in others. Try confiding in trusted family members and friends about how you have been feeling. Be honest with others about what you are experiencing instead of covering up your emotions. An understanding loved one can give you the strength and support you need to help cope with depressive feelings.
- Manage your stress. Learn effective ways to reduce your stress and anxiety, which may minimize your feelings of depression.
- Exercise regularly. Regular fitness activities can improve your mood and boost your self-esteem. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that is right for you. Because a lack of sunlight may be contributing to your depression, exercise outdoors for a double benefit.
- Eat right. Discipline yourself not to overeat. Avoid junk foods and environments that may encourage binging. Stick to a nutritionally balanced diet. Avoid alcohol, which is a depressant.
- Get the proper amount of sleep. Experts recommend at least seven to eight hours a night. Resist the urge to oversleep, and try to maintain a regular sleeping schedule.
- Make more time for recreational, fun activities. Try to spend more time outdoors, especially on sunny days.
- Be more social. Stay in touch with friends and family.
- Consider using a light box. These devices have been used successfully to treat seasonal affective disorder. Talk with your doctor or therapist about whether the increased amount of light could be helpful to you.
- Educate yourself. Learn all you can about depression, support groups in your area and ways to manage your feelings.
Resources: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – www.nimh.nih.gov;National Institutes of Health (NIH) – http://health.nih.gov; Mental Health America- www.nmha.org; Guidanceresources.com.