Forget red and green, the Holiday Blues are all too real for many of us. According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), over 60% of people say the holidays make their mental health conditions worse— and that was before this dumpster fire of a year
With the challenges of this year in mind (stress, disorientation, isolation, nothing good left to watch on Netflix)it’s more important than ever to be conscious of self-care throughout the holidays and colder months.
Here are a few tips that can help you manage the additional stress and anxiety that can occur through the festive season.
A simple one, but one of the most important and hardest to achieve. Chances are you have at least a few days off work during the holidays, so take full advantage. Remember that rest is something your body needs, not something you earn the right to. Luxuriate in the time you have for yourself. Take opportunities to put your feet up when you can, there should be more than a few Christmas movies on TV to help with that!
2. Managing SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is one of the biggest causes of increased anxiety and depression symptoms in the winter months. For some it’s an annoyance, for others it can be seriously debilitating. Either way, here are some tips to fight the SADness of it all.
- Get moving Image– Wrap up warm and take a walk in the crisp air, sign up for a dance class, exercise at home, whatever you feel up to.
- Let there be light (therapy) – Lightboxes can be bought relatively cheaply online and can make a big difference for SAD sufferers. Lightboxes can trick your brain into thinking it’s getting daylight, lessening the drag of getting up on dark mornings to cold weather..
- Eat healthy – It’s easy to approach the holidays with a “treat yourself mentality”, and we’re all for indulging! Just remember than your brain and body crave routine. Try and balance each meal with carbohydrate, fat, fiber, and track how different foods make you feel.
3. Online Family Gatherings
Many of us won’t  see our whole family in the way we often do over Christmas. Catching up is great, and there are ways  to enjoy time together virtually, including playing games, watching a movie together virtually (streaming services has watch party options), and just having fun!
4. Mood & Sleep
It’s no secret that sleep has a big impact on your mood. A few late nights can be expected over Christmas, but it’s important to get your sleep in. Remember that eight hours of sleep doesn’t mean from the moment you get in bed and scroll Tiktok. Factor in the time you need to wind down and get to sleep in addition to your nightly eight. Plan an occasional lie-in, take an occasional early night, enjoy the freedom to sleep when you need to without work calls!
5. Cannabis Consumption
Substantial research has shown that Cannabis and CBD can aid mental health issues, especially those connected to anxiety and stress. The main cannabinoid in cannabis, THC and CBD can affect mood, appetite, sleep, and more.
Cannabis and CBD also contain terpenes (the molecules responsible for taste and smell of cannabis) including limonene and pinene, which have a long history of use in traditional medicine for their aromatherapeutic properties. While cannabinoids and terpenes can help support aspects of mental wellness, it’s important to also be cognizant of over-reliance on cannabis.
Consider stacking your cannabis consumption with a healthy, mindful habit like stretching or going for a walk. Notice what time of day cannabis consumption works best for you and set boundaries around your consumption.
Wishing you a cozy, calm and safe holiday season. We’re all in this together!