The holiday season can be a stressful time, and it’s common for people to experience an increase in feelings of loneliness or depression. One study found that 64% of people with mental illness report the holidays cause a decline in their mental health.
These issues are especially pronounced in people who live alone. However, if you live alone during the holiday season, you don’t have to let your mental health suffer. There are strategies for supporting your mental health and making the holiday season a happy and healthy time of year. To stay mentally healthy this season, follow these tips:
Creative activities are known to boost dopamine levels. Dopamine is the chemical in your brain that causes you to feel happy. You can use your alone time this season to nurture your creativity.
Many people find their houses are too crowded at this time of year to be able to focus on creative projects, but you can take advantage of your space at home to develop your creative abilities. Everyone has different creative interests, so if you’re not sure which creative hobby to explore, try a few until you find the one you like the most.
Some people like trying new recipes, decorating their homes, or making arts and crafts. Cooking, baking, and crafting are perfect activities during the holiday season because you can use baked goods and crafts as gifts for your neighbors, friends, or family.
Other creative outlets include creative writing, painting, woodworking, or playing a musical instrument. If you’ve never tried these activities before, it’s the perfect time to pick up a new skill. There are online tutorials for nearly any creative activity, so you can practice until you master the skill.
Even though you live alone, there are always ways to keep in touch with others. Be sure to keep up your connections with friends and family whenever possible. You can call or video chat with loved ones who live far away or drop by some holiday treats if they live nearby.
There are also many ways to connect with new people during this time of year. You can volunteer at a food bank, join a support group, or visit a church. Many people find it fulfilling to participate in a Sub for Santa program at this time of year or participate in other charity work because it makes them feel more connected to their community.
If there’s not a charity event going on that you’d like to attend, try organizing your own. Collect donations for a holiday gift drive or non-perishable food items to donate to those in need. This will not only help others in need, but also can help you connect with other people who are passionate about charity work.
Physical health plays a huge role in mental health. This time of year can be difficult to stay healthy because the weather gets colder, and the stress of the holidays can lead to eating sugary and processed foods. But if you make it a priority to give your body the support it needs through exercise and nutrition, you’ll be much more likely to feel better mentally.
There are lots of great ways to stay active, even when it’s cold outside. Joining a gym or a group fitness class can be a great way to support your health while also making connections with others. There are also many at-home workouts you can find online. These can help you stay active without joining a gym.
While it’s okay to enjoy some holiday treats from time-to-time, make sure you include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. Try to take small portions of dessert when you’re eating sugary treats. This will set your body up for success, and help you stay mentally healthy this season.
Some people feel drawn to using substances like drugs or alcohol to cope with mental health issues. However, this will only make the mental health issues worse. Drugs and alcohol cause chaos for your body’s mental and physical health.
Avoid all drug use, and consume alcohol only in very small amounts. If you have a history of alcohol abuse, it’s better to avoid alcohol altogether. If you have difficulty avoiding substances during this time of year, find an accountability partner or join a support group that can provide you with support and encouragement to manage your mental health in more positive ways.
One of the most common issues for people who live alone is not always having someone around to talk to when you feel in need of support. Journaling can help, allowing you to process your thoughts on your own.
Journaling also builds mindfulness by helping you reflect on your feelings and the events that happen each day. Mindfulness is important for mental health because it helps you build awareness when you’re not feeling well, so you can address the problem and seek treatment, if needed.
Keeping a journal specifically for gratitude has also been shown to have major mental health benefits. Scientists have studied the effects of writing down one thing you’re grateful for each day. Those who wrote in a gratitude journal every day for ten weeks saw significant increases in happiness, optimism, and overall well-being.
It’s important to remember there is always help when you need it. If you’re not feeling able to manage your mental health on your own, reach out to a professional to discuss ways to treat your mental health.
If you struggle with substance abuse, the stress of the holidays can be especially difficult to handle on your own. Find a medical professional who specializes in mental health and addiction to support you through this time. Jackson House Recovery Centers is a resource for you to reach out to if you think you could use extra support avoiding substance abuse and managing a mental disorder during this time of year.