7 Tips to Beat the Holiday (and Post-Holiday) Blues
The holiday season can be a festive time of the year, giving you a chance to catch up with family and friends while enjoying some time away from work. But for many people, it can also be a time of increased stress, painful reflection, loneliness and depression. This propensity for the holidays to bring challenges to the forefront has given rise to the term “holiday blues,” and it’s possible to experience this phenomenon even when you love the holiday season.
Individuals who experience mental health issues are especially prone to experiencing the holiday blues. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that 64% of people suffering from mental illness find that the holiday season intensifies their condition. For many, this can extend into the New Year, resulting in post-holiday blues. Post-holiday blues may be caused by an adrenaline comedown following an intense holiday season, or it may simply be a continuation of the challenging emotions experienced during the holidays.
It’s important to take care of your mental health during the holidays to ensure you avoid developing a case of the holiday (or post-holiday) blues. This will not only help you enjoy the holidays more and start off 2023 on a positive note, but it will also improve your heart health. Depression, anxiety, and stress can cause a variety of issues that may increase your risk of heart disease, such as:
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Reduced blood flow to the heart
- High production of cortisol (a stress hormone)
The following tips will help you stay mentally healthy over the holidays and reduce your risk of experiencing the blues.
Set Realistic Expectations
We all want the holidays to be perfect, but that simply isn’t a realistic expectation. There are many reasons why the holiday season may not go as planned. Whether it’s a difficult relative causing you stress, financial circumstances preventing you from traveling or getting your loved ones gifts, a lack of loved ones to spend time with, or any other factor which may lead to adversity, it’s easy for the holidays to fall well short of perfect (or even great).
Rather than building up an ideal notion of your perfect holiday season, try to set realistic expectations for how this time of year will unfold. Be honest with yourself about who you will spend time with, and what you can all do together, and remember that it’s ok if things don’t go exactly as you had hoped.
Build in Time for Relaxation
The holidays can be chaotic and hectic. Between gift shopping, holiday parties and other activities, it’s easy for your schedule to completely fill up. However, this can lead to exhaustion (especially if work remains stressful during this time of year). Make sure you build in downtime for relaxation and self-care.
Take at least a day or two to simply relax at home and catch up on rest. It’s also important to set aside time over the holidays for activities that can nourish your mind and body, such as yoga, meditation, reading, exercise or a massage.
Make Time for Exercise
Exercise does much more than keep your body fit, it also delivers significant benefits to your mind. Regular exercise can reduce stress and anxiety, which will help you avoid the holiday blues and improve your heart health. It’s easy to neglect your exercise routine when the holidays get busy, but you should prioritize time for physical activity. Whether you go to the gym, take a winter hike, get a few days on the ski slopes, or engage in your favorite athletic activities, make sure exercise remains a part of your holiday season.
Practice Gratitude and Seek Joy
The holiday season provides a great opportunity to reflect on the things in your life that you’re grateful for. Make a conscious effort to think about these positive aspects of your life during the holidays, and do your best to let go of any negative emotions that may creep into your mind.
Similarly, take this time to focus on the things that bring you joy – both in life and over the holiday season. Whether it’s spending time with loved ones, participating in your favorite holiday traditions, watching your favorite movies or devoting time to your hobbies, make an effort to seek out your moments of happiness.
It’s easy to feel isolated over the holidays, especially if you can’t travel to celebrate with your loved ones in person. Make an effort to stay connected to your family and friends over the holidays. If you can’t see your loved ones in person, talk on the phone or via FaceTime to catch up. If you don’t have family around to enjoy holiday dinner with, seek out friends who may be around to share this occasion with you.
It’s easy to overextend yourself over the holidays. You don’t have to go to every party or dinner you’re invited to. You also don’t have to host an extravagant event for everyone in your life. Be realistic about what you can take on during the holidays and set limits that will allow you to maintain a healthy outlook. This applies to monetary commitments as well as time commitments. If you’re experiencing tough financial times this year, set limits on how much you can spend on gifts to reduce stress over money.
If you find yourself struggling with depression or any other mental health issue over the holidays, reach out to others in your network for support. This can be as simple as talking to a close friend or relative to share your stresses and emotions. It can also involve speaking with a mental health professional who can help you navigate intense bouts of anxiety and depression.
South Denver Cardiology Associates Can Help You Beat the Holiday Blues
At South Denver Cardiology Associates, we’re here to help you during the holiday season. We offer a variety of services that can help you beat the holiday (and post-holiday) blues:
- Our Mind/Body Studio can help you change your lifestyle and focus on overall wellness
- Our Health and Healing Center provides massage therapy, nutrition education, customized exercise plans and other services that can help improve your mental health over the holidays
- Our Medical Fitness Gym will be open, providing you with an opportunity to stay physically active over the holidays
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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