The holiday season can be a fun time of year filled with fun celebrations and moments spent with the ones we love. But for some people, it can be a very stressful – and even sad – time of the year.
A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 38 percent of participants had a higher level of stress during the holiday season. Add the ongoing uncertainty about COVID-19 to the mix, and it can be hard to stay positive and optimistic.
It’s important to take time off your holiday to-do list and think about things that will rejuvenate and lift your spirits. Then you can be healthy for your own good as well as for others. Let’s think about the kinds of mental health gifts we can give ourselves.
gifts for relaxation
Blankets, essential oils, bath salts, scented candles, and tea can all help us relax and recharge. Aromatherapy is said to improve pain levels, relieve stress, and boost mood, making it a great tool for self-care. Lavender can aid sleep, while rose and chamomile may help you combat winter mussels.
If listening to music isn’t part of your relaxation routine, it probably should be. There is plenty of evidence that music helps people relax. So getting some new tunes for yourself, or taking the time to listen to your current group, can do a great job of lifting your spirits.
And reading—whether it’s self-help books, prayer books, or literature—may also enhance our sense of empowerment and well-being.
If you want to try yoga or meditation, or expand your yoga or meditation practice, give yourself permission to make time for proven relaxation techniques.
Gifts to put the pieces together
Did you know that the popularity of jigsaw puzzles has risen over 300 percent during the pandemic? It was also popular during the Great Depression as an antidote to tough times. Many people find working on puzzles meditative and a distraction from other interests.
Puzzles are also a good way to relax and exercise mindfulness, drawing your conscious attention to the present moment. Working on a puzzle with a family member can help you move away from screens and enrich your sense of personal connection.
Gifts for creativity
Gifts that encourage creativity may also be beneficial to our mental and physical health. Art supplies or journals can lead us outside of ourselves and provide a way to track, express, and manage our emotions. The acquisition of new photography equipment or musical instruments – or anything that generates your inner inspiration – is a gift that will keep on giving.
Gifts to move yourself
Since we know that movement and exercise are important to mental health, consider gifts that will motivate you to move, especially outdoors. Provide yourself a good pair of walking shoes, a warm jacket and a hat, and welcome walks in the sun at any temperature. If you’re staying indoors, try our free online yoga classes; Yoga may also help reduce symptoms of depression.
gift of time
Decide what is the most important thing you do in the day, and feel comfortable ignoring or delegating the rest. Don’t rush into meals, and make time for activities that make you feel satisfied, whether it’s listening to music or walking the dog. (If you don’t have a dog, remember that owning a pet can also be good for your mental health. There’s another gift idea—provided you’re willing to make that kind of commitment.)
Most importantly, manage your time so you can reap the mental and physical health benefits of seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
In the end, if self-care measures don’t seem enough and you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, the best gift you can give yourself this holiday is the gift of professional help. Your primary health care provider can assess your needs and, if necessary, prescribe medications or refer you to a licensed therapist. (Independence Blue Cross members can locate behavioral health professionals within the network at ibx.com/providerfinder.)
says Ryan Connolly, MD, a psychiatrist and behavioral health director at Independence Blue Cross.
“But being mentally healthy allows us to work and get good care or our families, friends, co-workers and everyone else we need. When we feel good, we are able to contribute fully, and participate more meaningfully in these different relationships. I can’t think of a better gift. So “.
If you need help
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or thinking of harming themselves, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
For more information about depression, self-care strategies, and where to get help, visit ibx.com/knowyourmind.
This content was originally published on IBX Insights.
About the IBX Insights team
The IBX Insights team is here to provide advice on using your health insurance and living a healthy life.