Why your mental health is worse during the holiday season and what to do about it.
To read the actual article as it appeared in Nashville Lifestyles Click Here.
Gone are the days of daydreaming about what might be awaiting us under the tree.
Instead, we’re probably zoning out thinking about gift lists, workplace bonuses, and finding a babysitter for the holiday party. ( Just me? Okay, then.) We dive into a few reasons your mental health may be taking its own Christmas vacation and ways you can cope, keep calm, and yes, even celebrate this holiday season.
Alas, along with tins of cookies, good cheer, and festive carols, the holidays also bring panic attacks and depressive spirals for many of us. As an added bonus, the skies become grayer, the days get shorter, and, in Nashville, the weather becomes wetter and chillier.
Less sunlight has a well-documented effect on human moods. Seasonal Depressive Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression triggered by the change of seasons, most commonly beginning in late fall. For some people, SAD is debilitating. Common symptoms can include feelings of sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, oversleeping and weight gain.
Pick up a natural light lamp and shine it near where you spend most of your day indoors.
A Warm Welcome
If you plan yearly vacations, consider planning one in the fall and/or winter months, ideally to a tropical (or at least warmer) climate.
Along with giving us belly laughs and fun photos, the holidays remind us of our families’ imperfections and, in some cases, truly disturbing issues. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been tempted to “cancel Christmas this year” or “uninvite so-and–so” more than once. So how do we navigate this?
Eating inflammatory foods (think gluten and dairy) tends to create fatigue, brain fog, and a feeling of being bloated. To be fair, this season is probably the worst time to start a cleanse, so no one’s suggesting that (and thank God), but consider ways you can eat clean during the week and save your holiday eats for the weekend parties.
Get Your Sweat On
Most forms of exercise release a flood of positive endorphins and neurochemicals that immediately raise your mood and boost your mental clarity. Whether it’s yoga or kickboxing that you’re into, do whatever you can to sweat it out at least twice a week.
While you probably can’t cancel Christmas or uninvite Aunt Mildred from Thanksgiving (I know—bummer), you can still set other boundaries in your life to protect you during this incredibly energy-draining season. Perhaps the boundaries need to be with yourself. Maybe you’re saying yes to far too many things, and you need to start saying no. If you’re looking for permission, here it is: You can say no. Dr. Barbie Hessel from Nashville’s Simply Being Therapy (simplybeingtherapy.com) says, “This is a time to check in with ourselves and establish internal and external boundaries. We may feel pressured to spend our time running from place to place, trying to please everyone. Instead, think carefully and feel into yourself. Feel into your internal boundary and do what works for you. A therapist can help you consider your boundaries and work with you on expressing them in a healthy and effective way.”
We’ve all felt anxiety and depression, and we all need help from time to time, especially during this time—the magical, chaotic, and deeply challenging holiday season. And for intravenous vitamins, NAD+, and other ways to naturally boost your mood and energy, check out superhumaniv.com.
Tools For Your Holiday Toolbag:
- Light therapy devices: Carex Day Light Lamp ($116 regular price at Amazon/Walmart):
- Schedule a session with a wise and empathetic therapist. My family’s personal favorites are Dr. Barbie Hessel and Christi Sidwell at Simply Being Therapy. They can help you process any sadness, unmet expectations, unhealed traumas, and other challenges you may be facing this holiday season.
- Exercise regularly and (if you can) increase your workouts instead of decreasing them. You’ll need those positive neurotransmitters firing as optimally as possible during those dark fall and winter months.
- “Explore a variety of sensory resources,” says Dr. Barbie Hessel. “The smell of an essential oil or the smoothness of clean sheets can help you begin to experience more comfort.” Our nervous system, along with our brain, let us know when we are safe or less so and we can use our senses to communicate with our bodies to feel more comfortable.
- Utilize mood and energy boosters like NAD+ if you’re feeling fatigued or need an energy lift. Our favorite is an NAD+ IV infusion loaded with vitamins as it creates an immediate lift in energy at the cellular level.
- Create fun moments of community with safe people you love while minimizing exposure to toxic people as much as possible.