Archive of ‘Depression’ category

Holiday Cheer or Holiday Drear

With holiday music playing in stores, Starbucks releasing their new holiday latte, and wreathes hanging on doors, I can’t help but anticipate the upcoming holiday season. And while society projects the holidays as a time of joy, parties, and wonderful family gatherings, it is important to remember that the holidays can be a very challenging time, particularly for those struggling with grief and loss, loneliness, illnesses, economic concerns, or relational issues like divorce and separation. Even individuals who aren’t struggling with the aforementioned concerns often feel overwhelmed by the unrealistic expectations, family strife, and to-do lists that seem to go along with this time of year. Additionally, many people report feeling down, or a sense of disappointment after the holiday hype.

By: Jennifer Alley, LPC

By: Jennifer Alley, LPC

Following are a list of suggestions to help you this holiday season:

  • Maintain your normal routines like exercising, sleeping, attending therapy sessions/group meetings, taking medication, spiritual/religious practices, and self-care activities as much as possible.
  • Stay in touch and reach out to supportive people in your life as stress/anxiety/depression comes up.
  • Set limits and boundaries when necessary to take care of yourself.
  • Try to set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and others. There is no such thing as the “perfect” holiday we often imagine.
  • Try to stay out of criticizing, judging, or comparing yourself to others. Comparison (think social media) leads to feeling isolated and not good enough.
  • Join a support group if you are struggling with mental illness, grief and loss, separation or divorce.
  • Talk about your feelings with people who care about you. Ask for what you need.

May: Mental Health Month

Mental Health America observes May as Mental Health Month, a program dedicated to raising recognition about the importance of mental health to overall health and wellness. Their theme for 2014 is “Mind Your Health.” This May, consider making 2-3 goals to increase your mental health and wellness. Just by making a few small changes, you can experience improved relationships, better physical and mental health, and feel greater joy and happiness.

Stay socially connected

To feel more happy and decrease the effects of stress, depression, and anxiety, remember to make plans with friends, share your problems and joys with others, listen and reach out to those in need of support, and have fun in social settings.

Consider:

  • Setting up weekly lunch or dinner dates with friends or loved ones
  • Connect daily or weekly with people you care about over the phone or through email
  • Plan at least one fun activity that is social each week

Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for your mental and physical well-being. It helps you learn, process memories, restore energy, repair muscle tissue, and regulate hormones. Not getting enough sleep can lead to both physical and mental/emotional struggles and conditions.

Consider:

  • Going to bed at the same time each day
  • Avoiding watching TV or using technology in the last 30 minutes before bed as it can wake your brain
  • Exercising earlier in the day if possible as it often has a waking effect on the body

Reduce and control your stress

Life is stressful. Too much stress (or lack of ability/knowledge to manage it) can negatively impact your body by creating somatic issues (headaches, stomachaches, etc), emotional struggles (irritability, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc), difficulty sleeping, rise in blood pressure, weight gain or loss, and more.

Consider:

  • Meditating (check out the Headspace app- 10 minutes/day for 10 days series)
  • Exercising
  • Prioritizing and doing one thing at a time
  • Engaging in leisure time and hobbies
  • Sharing your feelings/stress with loved ones
  • Journaling
  • Setting realistic goals and say “no” when necessary
  • Decreasing or eliminating use of substances to avoid/numb/manage stress. Instead, use one of the above suggestions or seek professional help to manage difficulty in your life.

For more information and resources on Mental Health Month, visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net.


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