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After a wonderful and busy holiday season spent with friends and family, many feel sad or anxious when it comes to an end. Work and family life go back to normal and the months of January through March may seem cold and dark. After months of planning, shopping, and preparing, it’s entirely normal to feel depressed when it’s all over. Perhaps the holidays weren’t what you expected, or maybe they were the only chance to see a loved one. Regardless of the circumstances, the post-holiday blues affect millions of individuals. Here are the best practices to improve your mental health in the New Year and beyond-
1. Cut Back on Caffeine and Alcohol
Both alcohol and caffeine greatly affect our mental wellbeing, particularly for those struggling with anxiety and depression. Caffeine is a mild stimulant that increases anxiety, affects sleep, and has addictive qualities. The detrimental effects of alcohol have been widely discussed-from addiction to depression to an increase in sleep disorders. One of the best ways to feel better and make it through those first few difficult months is to cut back on both alcohol and caffeine, particularly if you are sensitive to mind-altering substances.
2. Start an Exercise Program & Eat Healthily
Everyone makes a New Year resolution to eat healthily and start exercising, but many give up after a short time. Instead of focusing on your physical appearance, focus on your mental health, and wellbeing. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can boost endorphins, give you a sense of purpose, and improve your self-confidence. There is no need to run 5 miles or lift heavy weights your first time. Instead, try 30 minutes of yoga, brisk walking, riding a bike, or another type of physical activity that you enjoy.
All of the sugar, carbohydrates, and salt we ingest throughout the Christmas season can weigh us down and make us feel tired. It’s no wonder that most of us feel sluggish and exhausted when the New Year comes around. Try to incorporate green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein into your diet to ensure the body is receiving the nutrients it needs. It will also help give you the energy to maintain your new exercise program.
3. Practice More Self-Care
Few of us practice enough self-care, particularly during the early months of January and February. Though COVID-19 has restricted much of our activity, there are many ways to practice self-care that don’t involve putting oneself at risk. Contact friends, go outside, start meditating, do a self-service facial once a week. There are many small ways that even the busiest person can use to treat oneself. It’s essential to take these small breaks to prevent burnout and depression when we feel overwhelmed.
4. See a Therapist
If you are struggling with anxiety and depression, making a point to see a therapist is critical. There are many counselors who offer teletherapy services, allowing a patient to receive care from the comfort of his/her home. Weekly therapy can help enormously to incorporate positive coping mechanisms and thinking patterns that make it easier to handle bouts of depression and anxiety when they arise.
5. Get More Sleep
Most adults don’t realize that they don’t receive enough sleep. Even one or two nights of receiving 6 hours or less can make us feel anxious, tired, angry, and hungrier. It can also cause us to have concentration problems that affect our work and family life. Make a point to put away all electronic devices an hour before bed as the light from these devices stimulates our brains. Read a book, drink some hot tea, take a warm bath, and make a point to relax before bedtime. Try getting on a strict sleep schedule to ensure your body is getting the rest it deserves.
Do you struggle with the post-holiday blues? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.