6 Ways To Look After Your Mental Health This Holiday Season: Doctors Advice
For many of us, the holiday season is an incredibly busy time.
With presents to buy, events to plan and social activities on our calendars, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming. The sense of overwhelm can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress or frustration.
For others, the holidays can bring about the feeling of loneliness. The absence of loved ones and friends especially with the relentless media and retail’s focus on family. The feeling of loneliness occasionally leading to other feelings of sadness and depression.
On behalf of our Doctors and team here at Integrated Medical Solutions Group, we want to remind all of our patients that you’re not alone if you’re experiencing any of these feelings. We often see patients who present with these feelings at our practice and can provide support to help you through these periods in one way or another.
If you are struggling, here are some of our recommendations to help support you through this time of year. We remind you that this article is general advice only and we would encourage you to consult with one of our GPs should you require further help.
1. Take Time Out For Yourself
If there is one gift you can give yourself as 2018 draws to a close, it’s the precious gift of self-reflection. Not only will it help put things in perspective but it will also benefit your mental wellbeing.
It’s important to understand that feeling a bit down during the holiday season is a reality for many people. It’s also useful to learn how to manage the accumulated stress of organising parties, juggling money to buy presents and handling complex family relationships.
You may like to go for a walk, relax in the pool or head to your favourite coffee shop and write down the good, the happy and the difficult moments of 2018. Reflecting on your notes may help you identify major triggers that are causing negative feelings and is a good starting point for a conversation with your local general practitioner.
2. Switch Off From Work
In the era of 24/7 messaging, WiFi and access to emails, you are often expected to be contactable at all times. That sense of constant connectivity brings with it a lurking pressure to be switched on for work, even on your days off. Before you go on your holidays, let your colleagues and clients know when you’ll be “out of range” and won’t be picking up calls, messages or emails.
If practicable, give yourself a complete break from work emails and calls and resist the temptation to check in periodically. Mentally and physically, your body needs downtime to fully recharge.
Develop your own ritual for switching off from your work. Try writing down a list of things you are worried about, then put that piece of paper aside until you return to work.
3. Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone
One of the mental health warning signs is when you find yourself in a rut. Take time out during your holidays to break your usual routine. Try something new that’s out of the ordinary for you. It’s a great way to lift your energy levels and revitalise your mental health. Learn a new skill, get away to a new destination or try your hand at volunteering. The trick is to select an experience that gives you a different perspective on life.
4. Adopt A Wellness Habit
Holidays give you free time to explore new experiences.
Make the most of your free time by introducing a new wellness habit into your daily routine. Explore yoga or meditation, try a new approach to your exercise regime, eat healthier foods, or start writing in a journal.
You have a host of options that may improve your mental health and wellness. The key to forming a fresh habit is to start small and ensure you follow it regularly. Repetitious behaviour is the foundation for forming a habit.
5. Take Time Out To Conduct A Life Review
The holidays provide a useful break from the pressure of work.
Think about what you would like to have experienced by your 80th birthday. What would your older self say to you now? What achievements do you want to be able to look fondly back on? Use this short exercise to identify what really matters most to you in your life. Then, write down three things you want to “start doing,” “stop doing,” and “change” immediately following your holiday.
6. Common Triggers For The Holiday Blues
There are some useful tips to counter the common holiday blues we see year after year. Remember, you always have a choice about how you feel and you always have options open to you.
Whether you are buying presents, planning that fabulous Christmas lunch or dinner feast or travelling, it’s easy to find yourself overextended financially. One of the best ways to avoid stressing over money during your holidays is to map out a budget in advance and try to stick to it. To avoid that annual credit card statement shock in the New Year try and use cash and avoid putting Christmas on your plastic!
OK, rarely does everyone get along in an average family. Sometimes you can feel pressured to be perfect and it can quickly all prove to be too much. Learn to recognise when family members are trying to lay a guilt trip on you or push your well-established boundaries. A caring family shouldn’t make you feel obligated to do things you may not want to do.
Start by managing your exposure. If you are staying with a family member, limit it to an overnight stay rather than a weekend. Similarly, pick one family to visit, rather than feeling stressed by trying to see and please everyone. Visit friends, for a few hours rather than staying the entire day.
Tis the season to be merry! Very, very merry. Eating rich food and drinking more than you should and more often than you should, can make you feel guilty or unhappy. Take it easy on yourself.
Remember to slot in regular exercise and keep your body moving when you can. The goal is to limit your cumulative consumption, not kill your holiday cheer!
In our enthusiastic desire to have a great holiday season, it’s easy to suddenly find yourself taking too much on. Unrealistic expectations are part and parcel of the holiday season and a frequent source of anxiety and stress.
Focus on what is truly important and eliminate the nice to haves. Make a list and work out your priorities. Decide on your limits, stick to them and allow others to share the responsibility for making a smashing holiday.
Isolation And Loneliness
Many of us do it tough time during the holiday season. The media relentlessly pushes a stereotypical image of happy families, which can often make you feel more isolated than usual.
Its summer, get outdoors, soak up some sun (safely of course) and join a group with a common interest for that sense of warm social interaction. Alternatively, try volunteering. It can put your life in perspective and feel very rewarding.
Remember; if you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed this holiday season, speak with one of our doctors or lifeline for support with your mental health during the holiday season.
We wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.