Mental wellness is important at all times of the year but especially during the winter holidays. The cold winter months may affect your mental well-being more than you realize — and the holiday festivities can just add to the stress. It’s not uncommon to feel that you are in a “funk” during this time of year.

The first step in taking care of your mental health this season is to recognize signs you may be struggling with temporary feelings of anxiety or depression. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, these symptoms can include feelings of fatigue, tension, frustration, loneliness or isolation, sadness, or a sense of loss. If you recognize any of these symptoms, consider some of these practical steps to help mitigate these feelings:

  • Realize it’s okay to feel how you feel: The holidays can be hard for many reasons — from missing loved ones to unmet expectations to comparing past holidays. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel. Do not feel guilty for feeling the way you do.

  • Seek sun and endorphins: During the winter months, you’re more likely to stay inside and inactive. While sunlight and exercise will not solve everything, research has shown that they can help improve moods. Even going on a short walk in the afternoons to get your blood flowing and some sun on your skin can help improve your mood.

  • Avoid isolation: Being isolated can add to your feelings of loneliness. Make an effort to plan activities with friends or family. This could be anything from a movie night at your house or trying out a new restaurant. Planning activities helps you avoid isolation and unstructured time and gets you spending time with loved ones. If you can’t be with loved ones over the holidays, check out our blog post on ways to stay connected even when you’re apart.

  • Talk it out: Keeping negative thoughts in your head will only make you feel worse. When you’re struggling with bad thoughts, talk to someone about it. A great place to start is with a friend, a family member, a religious leader or a counselor. If no one you know if available, check out one of the resources listed at the end of this article.

  • Make a thankful list: Make a list of things you are thankful for. This can be anything from people to relationships to pets to material goods. When things feel negative, it can be helpful to mentally run through this list to reflect on good things in your life.

Above all, recognize that the holiday blues are usually only temporary; these feelings won’t last forever. Take things day by day. However, if they do seem to extend beyond the holiday season, this could be a sign of something more serious. Please contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. If you are struggling with negative thoughts and need someone to talk to, check out these resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • Talk to a trained crisis professional 24/7, 365 days a year by calling 1-800-273-8255.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

  • Here you can find a local resource for any mental health services you may need. 

Tips for beating the holiday blues


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