How to deal with struggling mental health during the holidays

ST. JOSEPH CANTY, Ind. (WNDU) – Even though it’s called the most wonderful time of the year, the holidays can be the most stressful.

After the death of DJ and Tik Tok star Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss was ruled a suicide, mental health professionals want to remind people that the battle with mental illness is always worth fighting.

Researcher and podcaster Marcus Parks said, “While mental illness is not my fault, it is my responsibility.” Still, anyone who has experienced the endless despair that comes with depression will tell you that it can sometimes feel impossible to overcome.

More than 1,000 Hoosiers have lost their lives by suicide each year since 2016, and Indiana’s suicide rate has been higher than the national rate since 2000.

The CDC says fewer people kill themselves during the holidays than other times of the year, but it also found that more people experience depression or anxiety during the holidays, and that added stressors can worsen existing mental health challenges. health.

Dr. Erin Leonard, a psychotherapist and author of Psychology Today, says that childhood trauma and grief over loss are two common obstacles around the holidays.

She says there are three easy ways to improve your mood: going outside, watching funny TV shows or movies, and petting animals.

Smiling and laughing while watching something funny can release endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. Petting animals also instills a sense of calm and comfort, which is why animals are used in various types of therapy.

And before people feel that they are drowning under pressure, they should “pour some water” before it gets worse.

“Many times I will explain it as if you were a glass of water; you are the cup and anxiety is the water and life will naturally pour water into your cup and if it reaches the top it overflows, you feel like you’re going to fall out,” Erin Leonard, Ph.D., Associate Ph.D. and owner of Recore Counseling LLC, said. “And if you naturally just dump a little bit of water every now and then and kind of regroup and lose weight little by little, the water always stays at a manageable level, but it takes intention and self-discipline and just letting yourself, well, I’m going to walk the dog ; 10 minutes walk and when you come back you really feel like a different person.

Although it sounds simple, she says getting outside and experiencing nature is the best medicine to change your mood and help balance your life.

Dr. Leonard also says that too much screen time, unrealistic expectations from social media and too much time indoors can contribute to depression and anxiety.

She also wanted to give people some tips and tools to help them deal with “difficult” relatives at the holiday table, which included responses like “well, I respect that we can have different opinions” and “I respect your point of view about the topic’ without engaging or falling into an ‘anger trap’.

Mental Health Professionals Tell 16 News Now that we can help those who are struggling simply by recognizing that something is wrong and then listening.

“We never know what a phone call, a text message in this day and age, is going to do to lift someone’s spirits and let them know that they are cared for and that they are concerned because they can be very depressing this holiday season,” Marla Gaudette, Mental Health Professional and owner of Mentoring Moments LLC, said. “To help. Let’s help in this way. Let’s help end this depression just by being there.”

Seeing everyone else cheerful and enjoying the holidays can affect someone who is already depressed and “almost alienate them more,” which can lead to further isolation.

Mental health apps like The Daily Bean Finch Care can help people get out of a rut and maintain a more balanced schedule. Dr Leonard says Finch is more suitable for children, while The Bean is more for older children and teenagers. Daily Bean can be found on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

If you are going through a difficult time this holiday season, experiencing depression, anxiety or thoughts of self-harm, you can contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Helpline or call 800-273-8255.

You can also contact Dr. Erin Leonard and Marla Gaudette by visiting their websites.

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