The gift of mental health this holiday season

It is easy to underestimate how important mental wellness is to your overall health. However, there is a very close connection between mental and physical well-being. Poor mental health is a risk factor for many chronic physical health conditions. But being proactive about your mental health can give you the strength and tools to cope with stress, especially during the holidays. In a survey about the holiday blues, 64% of people say they are affected, and 24% say they are affected a lot.

Anyone can suffer from mental or emotional health problems — and over a lifetime most of us do. The good news is, no one has to suffer alone. There are ways to boost and protect our mental health. Plus, there’s help for those experiencing the effects of depression.

Good mental isn’t just the absence of depression or psychological issues. Being mentally and emotionally healthy enables us to take on and enjoy daily life. This Christmas, give yourself a gift that you can carry into the new year and benefit every aspect of your life — self-care and good mental health.

At-home mental wellness tips

During the holiday season and new year there are healthy habits that can help you stay mentally and emotionally healthy, even in stressful situations. Simple changes to your daily life can have a big impact on improving mental health and decrease the severity of symptoms from depression and anxiety, such as:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Moving your body, even if it’s just a short walk
  • Avoiding alcohol, especially if you are feeling down
  • Eating healthy food that makes you feel good
  • Taking time to relax for yourself, but also spending time with supportive, caring people
  • Setting realistic goals and expectations

Getting help for mental illness

Depression is a common and serious mood disorder that affects millions of adults in the U.S. Fortunately, it is also treatable. While there are many factors that contribute to mental health problems, some of them include biological factors such as genes or brain chemistry, and life experiences such as trauma or abuse.

The signs and symptoms of depression can present themselves in different ways, depending on the person. It is important to know what to look for both in yourself and your loved ones. Depression can affect anyone — even a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances. Symptoms may include:

  • Inability to fall asleep, under- and over-sleeping
  • Lack of an appetite, or overeating
  • A loss of energy
  • The inability to concentrate
  • A lack of interest in activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness or guilt and/or low self-worth
  • Suicidal thoughts or intentions

Depression can affect every aspect of life, causing problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, self-image, and even thoughts of death or suicide. Unfortunately, many of those in need do not receive help due to the stigma surrounding depression and mental health in general. However, treating mental health disorders is vital for your overall health and should be taken as seriously as physical health issues.

The first step to treating depression is meeting with a medical professional to discuss a route to recovery. Working together, you and your primary care provider or mental health professional can decide which treatment may be best, depending on your symptoms and their severity, your personal preferences, medication side effects, and other factors. The way a person goes about treatment is different for everyone, whether that be therapy, medication, or something else entirely. Knowing the signs and developing a plan to recovery is important, as depression can be treated and managed, leading to a better quality of life!

Have a happy, healthy holiday

There are so many positive benefits to taking control of your mental health. You can cope with stress, be more productive, and connect more deeply with friends and family when you are in a heathy state of mind.

As you are giving to others this holiday season, make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. Talk to your provider about your mental health goals and how you can achieve them. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

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