Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to all!
Though the holidays are often known as a time of cheer and joy, it's more common than you might think that folks feel the "winter blues" or "holiday blues".
It can be a time we over-schedule ourselves (leading to extra stress and pressure), or a reflective time that manifests as increased emotional needs.
There can be added financial stressors, loneliness, or nostalgia for holidays past.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that 64% of those with an existing mental illness feel the holidays make their condition worse.
In the US, about 14% of people identify as having the "holiday blues".
Even if you're someone who loves the holidays, the added social pressures and commitments can lead to anxiety and exhaustion.
Here are a few tricks you may find helpful over the next week or two to help boost your positive energy as we approach the end of 2019.
Commit to mini-exercise – even a 10-minute walk around the block can change your mood and energy that day. Get your blood flowing, some fresh air, and a little sunshine (yes even in the cold) can make you feel better. Your body will literally release mood boosting endorphins, so pop in your headphones with your favorite music and watch your energy shift!
A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that as little as one hour of physical activity each week was enough to prevent future cases of depression.
Invest in holiday "treats" with reduced allergens – we all know the holidays can be a time of overconsumption and indulgence in sugary treats. Candies, chocolates, cookies, pies, seem to be everywhere around us during the holidays! If you normally avoid dairy, gluten, soy, refined sugars, or any other ingredient, you don't have to fully ignore your boundaries during the holidays.
Even if you're traveling, take the time to find a local health food store and invest a bit extra in some friendlier goodies you can bring with you to your holiday event. If you normally feel better avoiding dairy and gluten, etc, it's better to have something like a dairy/gluten free cookie as an option for yourself. This way you can enjoy participating, without the stress of missing out, or guilt of giving in to temptations that really disagree with your digestion.
Limit alcohol – if you tend to overindulge on the alcohol around this time of year, be extra conscious of how many drinks you're having. Maybe limit yourself to one or two glasses of organic wine, or whatever works for you. Too much alcohol can impact good quality sleep, as well as increase negative feelings overall.
Omega 3 and Vitamin D3 – multiple studies are showing the importance of vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids on mental health. What's crazy is almost everyone is deficient in these two factors. Adding these two supplements into your routine can likely support overall brain function and may decrease the impact of depression.
*Of course, this is not personalized health advice. Talk with your doctor before making any changes to diet or supplementation.
Remember, the holiday blues are usually short-lived and you can always turn a negative mood back around by hopping back into healthy and positive habits on whatever day you're ready.