A lot of people in the world struggle with depression. The winter season especially affects people who deal with mental illness (and even those who typically don’t). It gets dark earlier and is bone-chillingly cold out there. With less vitamin D intake, some people struggle to keep their moods stable. This would contribute to seasonal depression. Don’t forget that the holidays aren’t a happy time for everyone. For some, the holidays are a remembrance of loss. There are people who don’t have families to celebrate with or homes to celebrate in. Some people have lost love ones this past year and will be experiencing a slew of firsts without their beloved family member or friend.
December has always been a difficult month for me. I always find myself stuck in sorrow and negative self-talk during the twelfth month. It’s almost like clockwork. I have family to spend the holidays with. I have a home to spend the holidays in. But yet, I can’t get out of the December funk.
Here are some things you can do to help your mental health this month (and every month):
- Start your grateful journal: List 5 things that you are grateful for every day.
- Exercise: Go for a walk around the block, jog on your treadmill, go to the gym, do some push-ups and sit-ups, jumping jacks, jump roping…whatever you do, get that heart rate elevated and those endorphins flowing. They are the natural mood boosters!
- Eat healthy meals: There is nothing worse than feeling bloated and gross after binge-eating all of the holiday sweets you could get your hands on. Sure, those things are fine in moderation, but don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables too! (Oh, and Vitamin D fortified foods such as almond milk and tofu)
- Positive Self-Talk: Spend a minute each morning when you are getting ready for your day to look in the mirror and say a positive affirmation to your reflection.
- Meditation: Spend at least 5 minutes per day meditating or enjoying silence without activity. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy the quiet. Listen to your body and feel it’s energy.
- Communication: If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t keep it bottled up. This is something that I struggle with at times. I sometimes feel scared that if I tell someone how I feel, they will not understand or they won’t be able to handle what I’m saying. Be vulnerable and let out your thoughts and feelings to someone you trust. It’s okay to cry and speak your mind; you will feel so much better afterwards.
- Give a loved one a hug: long hugs release hormones that lower the levels of cortisol in the body and, in turn, decrease your stress. The same thing goes for cuddling! So hug your loved ones!
- Do something you enjoy: Spend time every day doing something that you love. Whether that’s reading a book, playing a video game, crocheting, baking,…spend time making yourself happy and relaxing.
I know that this is a tough time for a lot of people, but we can do this. We can make it through this and you will be so glad that you were strong. We are in this together.