Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Habari Gani! Or for the rest of us: wishing you a blessed Kwanzaa.
Whatever you celebrate this December, I hope it’s full of love, laughter, hope, and so much more, especially after the year we have had. Things might be a little different-looking this year, but the sentiment is still there. And as always, even with the good things we celebrate every year, there tends to be a couple of negatives that crop up too. Holidays can be a really rough time of the year for some, and so if this post applies to you, I just want you to know this: You are not alone!
According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people say they feel stressed about the upcoming holidays. But is that just stress from baking to many treats or finding the perfect Christmas present? Or is it more of a social anxiety disorder, where being around certain family members create to much stress for yourself? I know I certainly don’t look forward to being around some of my family around the holidays. And of course there is SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. Much more common than you would think, this disorder affects many in the colder months. Why? Simple really, there is less sunshine and you are cooped up inside more often. I never knew that there was a word to describe what I feel every January, but here it is! So how can we combat these feelings of anxiety and depression?
If these disorders affect you in an extreme way, please seek medical advice from a trusted and professional source. I am not a doctor in any way, so I won’t be giving out medical advice today. But I urge you to take action on this, because no one should face these things alone.
However, I can offer you some advice for some “at-home” remedies, which I’m excited to do! 😄
Let’s start off with the easiest to do first. Here’s what I recommend:
- Exercise – I know, we all hate that word. But it really does help. Get up and wiggle around a bit, and I promise you’ll feel better. Exercising can lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep, which can help with those depressing mid-afternoon naps, and release some buddies called endorphins, which makes all of us feel better! And you don’t need a gym membership to do this. Take a walk around your neighborhood or park. (Don’t forget to bundle up.) Or put some on some dance music and shake what your momma gave you! YouTube is a great (and free) resource for this. Try some yoga, or just simple stretches. Want to go big? I suggest buying yourself some weights and keep them stored in that extra closet of yours. And please go easy on this one, sore muscles are a pain.
- Enjoy your time off – Even if we are stuck inside (either due to the cold or COVID-19), we should still enjoy our time away from work and other commitments. Go back to the old hobbies you use to enjoy, or start up a new one. And a binge day with Netflix isn’t a bad idea either. Or make time to text, call, or video chat with a love one, don’t forget that they are their and in your life for a reason.
- Smile more! – And if you feel like a big goof walking around with a smile on your face, don’t worry about it. Smiling is good for you! It’s easy to get swept up in the negativity of life, especially in the year of 2020. My nickname is Negative Nancy a lot of times, so I’ve been trying to correct that. Even if you have a lot on your plate, trying to remain optimistic will in the long run improve your mental health and help you get through the tough times.
Now for the harder stuff. I know, it’s not fun to do.
- If you can’t smile, talk to someone – I know that a lot of us may not have access to the best healthcare options. But there a tons of ways to find ways to receive free or cheap counseling and support groups. Google will be your best friend, make sure you search for options in your local area. Or confide in a trusted friend or family member and make them your “go-to” person for when you just feel down.
- Say no more often – Okay, this one is strange, but trust me, it makes a difference. I was horrible for the longest time at saying “no” to things. It would leave me feeling so much more stressed as I tried to zip around and fulfill promises and obligations, which lead to little time for myself. My worst issue was at work. I would always say yes and come in so often, even on my days off. Soon, I realized that I did not have enough time for myself over the week and I was really starting to get burned out. So I found myself a new job that sticks to my schedule and now I get all the time I need to recharge myself every week. I know for some of you with anxiety, this might be a tougher one to do, but it REALLY benefits you in the long run.
- Don’t force yourself to be around people you don’t want to be around – I feel like this one can really hit home with the holidays. For most of us, we endure old traditions set by our families and gather around for a feast, present-exchange, and many more things. And it may be awkward to accomplish, but really consider your mental health and don’t interact with those family members that you just don’t get along with. If possible, adjust your plans to spend it with immediate or distance relatives or friends even. And if you can’t change the plans, do your best to put space in between you and said person. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you don’t like something that they do, and just maybe they would be willing to listen to you.
Holidays are meant to be a happy time, and hopefully all of us get that at some point this year! But if not, please know that you are not alone, and I’m more than happy to listen and help however I can. I hope that the rest of 2020 will be a good time for all of us.
Until next time,
The Library Lady ♡