According to a recent study, as many as 1 in 4 U.S. adults suffer from some form of depression and anxiety disorder. Symptoms of these disorders can be exasperated during the holiday season.
The holidays can cultivate greater feelings of stress and emotion for anxiety and depression sufferers. This is in part caused by expectations of the big day, family feuds, lack of money, overindulgence, change of routine, and loneliness. They all take their toll.
Although for ongoing or serious cases of anxiety and depression we always recommend talking with a professional, there are several things you can do to help alleviate some of the feelings that come with depression and anxiety.
We’ve put together this article to help you cope with depression and anxiety during the holiday months. Read about some strategies for improving your mental health.
1. Practice Self-care
The first holiday treatment for anxiety and depression is to practice self-care. Self-care is the conscious act of how you’re treating yourself. Do you fill your thoughts with positive ones if something negative comes into your head? Do you think about yourself with kindness? Would you talk to a friend with the same words you use on yourself?
Other aspects of self-care involve forgiveness. This is the acceptance that something didn’t go quite as planned, or that you made a mistake but the important thing is to not reflect on the negative of it, instead focus on what you can learn from it.
Also, take time to be considerate to yourself by appreciating your own needs, such as when you need some space alone, or when you don’t feel forced into doing something you don’t want to. Follow this checklist;
- acknowledging your true feelings
- Resting and having time out when needed
- eating healthy foods and cutting back on unhealthy ones
- staying active, even if it’s just a short walk
- maintaining a support network
2. Practice the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
The emotional freedom technique is also referred to as tapping. It can help you move away from negative thoughts that might happen during the holiday season.
EFT starts with an identifying statement. This could be “I feel anxious.” This statement is then followed by another short sentence that shows acceptance or compassion. For example, the full sentence could be “I feel anxious, but I acknowledge and accept that.”
Putting how you’re feeling into a sentence helps to clarify your thoughts. After creating your statement, use your fingertips to tap at various points on your body such as your collarbone. This helps to consolidate and then ground your thoughts.
3. Stay Active and Get Outdoors
Although going out and hitting the gym might be the last thing on your mind, being physically active is one of the best science-backed ways to help alleviate anxiety and depression.
The reason this medication-free anxiety and depression treatment works is that when you exercise, your body releases the chemical, endorphin. Endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain. These receptors are liked to your body’s perception of pain. It also noted that endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to morphine.
If the weather is on your side, combine being active with doing something outdoors. Not only is the fresh air an instant pick-me-up it’s proven that if you are surrounded by green space, but it also helps to alleviate the symptoms brought on by mental health conditions.
4. Share How You’re Feeling With Trusted Loved Ones
Try to surround yourself with people you can rely on during the holidays. It doesn’t have to be limited to your family if they are the source of depression and anxiety. Instead, spend it with friends, or failing that, there are numerous groups online geared towards people alone at Christmas that you can join instead.
If you do have trusted friends and family, then share with them how you are feeling. You don’t have to give them all the personal details of what anxiety and depression medication you’re taking but just focus on the here and now.
After sharing your feelings they may be empathetic and perhaps share their own experiences. They may even suggest additional options or resources may not be aware of.
5. Create Depression and Anxiety Toolkit
Depending on how open you’ve been about your depression and anxiety, you can do this idea on your own, or with the help of a friend or therapist.
Write a list of all the activities you enjoy doing. If you haven’t enjoyed things for a while, think of all the things you used to enjoy doing instead.
Keep the list somewhere you’ll notice it regularly, such as the refrigerator, or bathroom mirror as a constant reminder of the things that you get pleasure in.
Things on the list don’t have to be complicated, they can be relatively simple things. Think of anything that you enjoy or used to enjoy doing. Here are some ideas;
- Lighting a candle and wrapping yourself in a blanket with a good movie or book
- Going to the forest to walk and listen to the birds
- Doing something creative like drawing, painting, or making something
- Listening to uplifting music that you associate with a positive time in your life
When you have your list, dedicate some time each day to something on there
Are You Struggling With Depression and Anxiety This Holiday?
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression and anxiety this holiday, you might want to reach out to someone who can help. At Apex Recovery, we offer a range of resources and programs.
Whether you’re currently on medication for anxiety and depression, or at the beginning of your recovery journey, we’re here to help. We work with the best physicians, licensed professionals, and psychologists with our goal of providing our patients with comprehensive, tailor-made treatment plans. We don’t accept Medi-Cal at this time but do accept self-pay options.
Speak to one of our professional team today for a confidential, no-obligation chat about how we can help you.