With the holiday season in full swing, the world continues to grapple with unprecedented challenges, and it’s clear that these global events can have a big impact on your mental health and well-being. In fact, a recent survey showed that depression levels among adults in the U.S. are at an all-time high.
Fortunately, it is possible to embrace the holiday spirit and enjoy celebrations with family and friends despite the circumstances around us. What’s more, it’s vital that we do. Finding joy and feeling gratitude amidst global chaos doesn’t just happen – it requires a thoughtful approach. Some of these ideas may help:
- Prioritize self-care. Taking time for yourself no matter how busy your day gets is crucial. Activities that recharge your body and unwind your mind – whether it’s a brisk walk, yoga with friends, meditation, listening to music or just watching a favorite movie – are more important than ever. If you’re really short on time, try a few minutes of deep breathing or a quick dance to a favorite song. You’ll be amazed at the benefits you can get from just five minutes of focused self-care.
- Connect with others. Staying connected to those you hold most dear is always important, but even more so if you are separated by distance. Schedule a virtual meet-up now, before you get overwhelmed by the busyness of the season. And don’t overlook the power of community connections. Attending church services, volunteering for a toy drive, or participating in a neighborhood event are just a few ways you can build more connections and feel a part of your community.
- Buddy up. Chances are many of your friends and family are feeling the same sense of overwhelm right now. Make a plan with two or three of them to be each other’s support when the going gets rough. Just knowing you have somebody you can reach out to whenever you need an encouraging word can boost your spirits. And being that same support for others is a great way to embrace the holiday spirit.
- Give back. It’s been proven over and over again that one of the best ways to lift your mood – and your holiday spirits -- is by serving others. During the holiday season, there are hundreds of opportunities for helping those in need – whether you have a few hours or a few hundred dollars to give. See the article below for ideas to get you started.
- Practice gratitude. Take it a step beyond what you might normally do and write down two things every night before you go to bed: what you were most grateful for during the day, and one thing that you saw, heard or felt that inspired a moment of awe. Within a couple of days, you’ll be looking for more “awe” moments that can instantly brighten your day and fill you with joy. As you focus on recognizing and appreciating those moments throughout the day, you’ll likely find an abundance of them to enjoy. Watching a child meet Santa Claus, hearing your favorite holiday song in the supermarket, or savoring the delicious aromas from a holiday market are all small things you might miss if you aren’t focused on finding those moments each day.
- Get help. If your sleeping habits or appetite have changed, you have lost interest in things that are usually pleasurable, or if you are feeling persistently sad or overwhelmed, talk to your doctor. Depression is a serious illness that shouldn’t be ignored, and your doctor can help you determine appropriate treatment options, from talk therapy and lifestyle modifications to prescription medications. Knowing when to reach out for help can be the first step towards finding peace and joy during the holidays – and help ensure that you are living life to the fullest year around. For help finding a doctor, click here.
Despite the global challenges we face, the holiday season can be a reminder of resilience and hope. Take time to find moments of joy and peace every day – and share them with others whenever you can. It’s the best way to embrace the spirit of the holidays and start the New Year off on the right note!
This article appeared in the December 2023 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.