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3 Habits to Ditch for Better Mental Health this Holiday Season

"A Holiday is an opportunity to journey within"- Prabhas


The holiday season is full of delicious food, Christmas tree decorating, family gatherings, gift giving, and Mariah's "All I Want for Christmas" on replay for many. Feeling down during the holidays can be extremely difficult, while everyone else seems to be beaming with joy and excitement. You want to be in the holiday spirit but can't hide the fact you don't have the same experiences during the holidays as other people. In fact, the holiday season is the worst time of the year for many people. Especially those battling depression, anxiety, loneliness, and who may not really have positive family relationships. So if the family parties, shopping, and holiday pressure has you down, remember you are NOT alone. A NAMI study showed that "64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse". If you anticipate feeling overwhelmed during the holidays, here are some suggestions for habits you can ditch to help reduce some holiday stress and better your mental health

64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse

Substance Use


So you're at the holiday gathering and may be tempted to have some extra cocktails to help "loosen up" the tension that you are feeling inside. Truth is, many of us have probably relied on some sort of substance to help get us through something. But excessive alcohol use can cause depression, mood swings, a range of health conditions including heart and liver diseases, high blood pressure, and can also lead to an increased risk of injuries and violence. Using substances doesn't actually reduce stress but can actually worsen it. While it may seem to help, this feeling is only temporary and all the underlying feelings will still be there tomorrow and you will probably feel worse about it. While moderation is always key, and not everyone will want to completely stop using substances, cutting down on your consumption of alcohol and help your mental health significantly.


Poor Sleeping Habits


Prioritizing your sleep during the holidays is important. With so much to do and so much added stress, our sleep patterns can be disrupted. Evidence shows a connection between sleep and mental health problems. Sleep allows our body to repair itself after the day has ended which helps maintain our cognitive abilities, memory, and attention. Getting sleep also allows our brain to process what we have experienced for the day. Poor sleeping habits can lead to mood swings, low energy, tiredness, irritability, and depression. However, we also want to be mindful to not oversleep, as this can also lead to feelings of low energy and mood. So make sure that you are getting enough sleep.


Not Exercising


Exercise works wonders for our mental health. In fact, according to JAMA psychiatry, being active three times a week can reduce your risk of depression by 16%. Exercising can help you stay mindful and present in the moment. It can help take your mind off stressful situations and keep you mentally/physically active. Low impact activity also helps reduce levels of cortisol which is known as the stress hormone. Keep in mind, this doesn't mean go run a marathon tomorrow. It can simply be getting out of bed and going for a walk around the block. Finding an activity that works for you like biking, dancing, yoga, etc. Just make sure to find something that you enjoy and have fun while doing it.



So there you go. 3 habits you can ditch for better mental health during the holiday season. Now I know this isn't going to make everything go away but it is small realistic steps you can take now to jump start that mental health journey. When stress is at its peak, it can be hard to stop and compose yourself. Remember to acknowledge your feelings and reach out if you are feeling lonely. Be realistic with your holiday expectations and know that nothing has to be perfect. As years go by, its ok to change our traditions, rituals, or find new things to do. Learn to say no if you dont feel like doing something or going somewhere. Most importantly, create healthy habits and ditch those that aren't beneficial to your mental health.

Thanks for joining me by reading. Please visit my website for more awesome blogs, wellness podcast episodes, worksheets, and resources. Don't forget to share with a friend, subscribe, and follow me on IG for more self-help content 🔎



xoxo




















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This is where we get real about how we can reframe our thinking and negative beliefs about ourselves. A casual self-empowerment blog all about self awareness and self-care. 

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