We get it. Holidays can be stressful. Trying to balance family, loved ones, holiday wish lists, your budget & bringing everyone together is a lot. We have some tips on managing the stress and how to identify if the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder could be affecting you.
We put together 5 tips to help with the stress. These can be used for the holiday season or anytime.
Exercises like walking, running or yoga can help you relax. Taking a break during the gathering might not be an option. One excuse you can use for a short walk is to “settle the food”.
This can be hard to do especially with the holidays. Try one (or all) of our healthy holiday foods.
You may worry a lot and making a note of what is going well might help you notice the good things happening. It might also be helpful to see if there are patterns that trigger your stress.
Meditation and Sleep Apps
Some apps also have sleep stories and bedtime meditations. The sleep stories may help distract you from your racing thoughts and give you a better night’s sleep. There are free apps like “Let’s Meditate” or paid apps like “Calm”.
With some help
Sometimes, you may just need to talk to someone. If you are in distress or struggling with your mental health, a crisis helpline gives you free and confidential support. Locate your nearest helpline in Washington state. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself please call 988 immediately to get the help you need.
On the other hand, you may feel down or lonely through the holidays. This is especially true if you have lost a loved one. But how can you tell if it is the “winter blues” or something more? We talked to CHPW’s Dr. Tawnya Christiansen about the milder “winter blues” and more serious Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.).
Dr. Tawnya Christiansen says “It is not uncommon for people here in the PNW – to react to the decreased amount of light associated with the winter months. Symptoms of winter blues include feelings of sadness, fatigue, lack of motivation for some tasks, trouble sleeping, or spending more time in bed during the coldest, darkest months of the year. But what the winter blues does NOT do is make people unable to manage necessary daily tasks like going to work or taking care of their home.”
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D, is actually a form of clinical depression. Untreated, it usually occurs during Fall/Winter months and improves in the Spring. Symptoms can include depressed mood, lack of interest, changes in how much you eat or sleep, changes in your energy, trouble concentrating, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and recurrent thoughts of death or even suicide. In contrast to winter blues, people with S.A.D. struggle to manage everyday tasks, and find their ability to function for work, school or social interactions is impaired. If you suspect your “winter blues” may be S.A.D., it is important to get a diagnosis and know that there is treatment to help you manage those symptoms.
I have a family member who is struggling. How do I talk to them about getting help?
“Start by listening. Check-in with them, offer some observations and give them room to respond. Keep in mind that the decision to get help is entirely theirs unless they are in imminent danger. Helpful things include: offering information resources, including them in activities, continuing to check in, engaging other family members or friends in supporting them, and continuing to listen” said Dr. Tawnya Christiansen.
- If you are one of our CHPW Medicare Advantage members, be sure to check out Silver & Fit for more fitness support
- If you are you feeling increased anxiety or have concern for a loved one, CHPW members can access help at bit.ly/CHPWbhc.
- Exercise & Staying Active During Cold Weather by American Heart Association
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by Healthwise
- Coping With Holiday Stress by Healthwise
- 5 Mental Health Exercises You Should Be Doing This Winter by Step Up for Mental Health
- 9 of the Best Ways to Build Mental Strength in Winter by Psychology Today