Chicago mental health experts outline 7 ways to strike a balance for improved mental health throughout the holiday season

Compass Health Center offers seven ways to improve mental health this season.

7 ways to strike a balance for improved mental health throughout the holiday season

7 ways to strike a balance for improved mental health throughout the holiday season

CHICAGO, Oct. 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A recent scientific brief released by the World Health Organization found that in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a monumental 25%. In the past few years, the holidays have looked different due to social distancing restrictions and safety guidelines. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic together, the excitement of being able to resume more of our holiday and family traditions can be combined with stressors related to holiday travel, larger personal social events, and a desire to catch up on lost time. This is further compounded by other seasonal stressors at work or school, in social circles, and within ourselves. Anna Finis, PsyD, director of IOP for Children and Toddlers at Compass Health Center – Chicago, explains, “entering the holiday season where we may find ourselves pulled in different directions, we have an opportunity to assess our priorities and fill our time intentionally . Balance in general is not how we add to our day, but instead how we are more intentional with our time.”

7 Ways to Strike a Balance for Improved Mental Health During the Holiday Season:

  1. Manage expectations and set boundaries – The holidays can be filled with “hot topics” that can easily escalate into serious disagreements, leading to increased stress, anxiety and harmful thought patterns. Boundaries should be set that respect the values ​​of the individual setting them. It’s restorative and empowering to set boundaries, even when others don’t comply.

  2. Engage in mindfulness – Finding a mindfulness practice that is realistic and practical for the time and energy you have is key. Don’t be discouraged if you initially find that mindfulness isn’t intuitive; practice is required. Mindfulness allows us to focus on the present when the stressors of what lies ahead become too much.

  3. Align your activities and priorities with your core values – Values ​​guide us by creating a sense of meaning and direction in our lives. Intentionally aligning your holiday traditions and priorities with your values ​​helps you make confident and meaningful choices and reduces the potential for increased anxiety and second-guessing.

  4. Practice self-compassion – It’s easy to engage in negative self-talk when you’re feeling overwhelmed; feelings of guilt, shame, and blame are not uncommon, and this cycle takes a toll on our mental health. Practicing self-compassion means giving ourselves the space and grace to make mistakes, seek rest, and find ways to incorporate self-care into our routine.

  5. Disconnect – There are pros and cons to living in a 24/7 world. While it’s great to have the world at your fingertips, constantly seeing tons of news, updates, emails, texts, and job requests can become overwhelming. Both your brain and body need rest. Once a week (or more!) turn off all devices and disconnect. Start with an hour and use that time to be in the moment or practice your mindfulness.

  6. Practice SEEDS – SEEDS is an acronym used in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) that stands for: Sdream, eour espend eoctor and Self-care/Smodesty. Practicing SEEDS begins with checking in with yourself on how you are doing or feeling to help you understand why you are feeling that way. For example: Have you been eating and eating in a way that is nutritious? Did you move your body today and get enough sleep last night? Did you forget to take the medicines prescribed by your doctor? If the answer to any of these questions is no, SEEDS can guide you in planning to get back on track and change the way you feel.

  7. Ask for help – Talking to a mental health professional is a safe, realistic option, and seeking support can provide a compassionate place to talk about your concerns or learn evidence-based skills to help you manage intense emotions.

“The holiday season can feel like an increasingly exhausting juggling act of work demands, planned meals with extended family and expectations of gift-giving. All too often the holidays are overshadowed by intense stress and feelings of overwhelm. Prioritizing our mental health and well-being, which requires little effort, is achievable by taking just a few small steps in the coming weeks and months.” said Kathryn Earley, LMSW, Group Therapist, Compass Virtual.

Protecting our mental health is not selfish or shameful; our emotions are valid and can tell us that our needs may not be being met. Seek professional behavioral health support if symptoms persist for more than two weeks or affect your daily life.

Contact information:
Britt Teasdale
Associate Director, Brand Management, Compass Health Center
[email protected]
Phone 216-926-0550

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