Stress has become synonymous with the holiday season. For those with a diagnosed mood disorder, the holiday season can be a time of increased mood shifts.
Stress whether good or bad can cause a change.
Being prepared is the best way to control the shifts so that you are not spending the New Year trying to come back from mania or depression.
Here are some suggestions for thriving during the holidays:
- Make mental health a priority. This is not the time to be canceling appointments with your doctor or therapist. You need the support of your mental health team to assist in dealing with family, holiday blues, or extra financial strain. Also, be diligent in taking your medicine(s) as prescribed. Travel and extra obligations can take you off schedule; don’t let this affect when you take your medicine(s). Set extra alarms or enlist the help of loved ones to keep you responsible.
- Stick to your schedule. Yes, the holidays are hectic, making it more important that you stay on track with good sleep hygiene, healthy meals and snacks, and regular exercise. Maintaining a healthy body provides a stable environment, which improves your brain’s functioning.
- Avoid alcohol (or drugs). I understand some people can have one drink and not be affected, but ask yourself is it worth the risk of suffering a mood shift. Alcohol and recreational drugs will always affect the way your body accepts your prescribed medications. During this season of added stress, it’s not worth the risk.
- Set reasonable holiday expectations. Life is not a Hallmark movie; families fight, gifts are returned, and Scrooges show up. Enter the season knowing that there will be times of disappointment and loneliness, but you will be okay. Spend time doing things you enjoy and be sure to incorporate time away from the hustle and bustle to recharge.
- Notify your doctor if you experience any mood shift. Catching a change early offers the best possibility of avoiding a downward spiral or even hospitalization.
Plan ahead this holiday season by remembering these suggestions. Know that you can take an active part in reducing the impact of your mood disorder on you and your loved ones during this holiday season. Maintaining your mental health could be one of your best gifts this year.
Ann Sheerin, MA
Asheerin @ GROWcounseling.com