By Anna Spoelhof, FNP
Laurie Birkholz, MD, and Associates
The holidays are a season filled with joy and laughter, but many suffer from depression and loneliness this time of year.
Multiple factors can contribute to the “holiday blues”, including social isolation, which is likely exacerbated this year by the pandemic. Consider eliminating the phrase “social distancing”, as it can make others feel more depressed during this time. Instead, practice “physical distancing” by layering up and socializing outdoors with a small group of loved ones to create new holiday traditions! Everyone needs socialization and having a positive circle around you can defeat loneliness.
Symptoms of holiday depression include feeling withdrawn or disconnected, not enjoying things you used to enjoy, lack of motivation, problems with sleeping, lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable, fatigue, or trouble making decisions. If you or a loved one are experiencing such feelings, please reach out to a healthcare professional or schedule an appointment here at LBMD & Associates. Dr. B & I are here to listen to your concerns, worries, and fears. Living amidst a global pandemic is so tough, but I promise we will get through these times stronger, together. Continue reading for some self-care tips during the holidays.
1. Know that it is 100% okay to feel how you are feeling.
It’s normal during this crazy time to experience feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, or all of the above. You are allowed to feel this way and to communicate with others how you are feeling.
2. Maintain a routine.
Start your day at about the same time each day. Set a goal for work to be completed for each morning and afternoon. Maintain adequate nutrition by eating three healthy meals per day. (Now is a great time to try new recipes!) Try to get in at least one physical activity daily. Exercise is fantastic for your mental health, so get some fresh air… Bundle up and go on a walk or run.
3. Practice good sleep hygiene.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. The goal should be 7-9 hours per night. Limit screen time in the evening, and avoid caffeine starting in the afternoon.
4. Connect with others.
It is easy to quickly feel lonely and secluded from others during the pandemic. Make an effort to stay socially connected by engaging in regular video or phone calls with family. Consider reaching out to an old friend and engage as you would face-to-face.
5. Take a break.
Take time for yourself each day. Step away from the news and from your work or household chores to do something you enjoy and that you find relaxing or rejuvenating!
6. Don’t abandon healthy habits.
Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt! Have a healthy snack before holiday meals so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese, or drinks.
7. Seek professional help if you need it.
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your healthcare provider or a mental health professional.