The Gift of Emotional Health Over the Holidays

While the holiday season is often a time of celebration with family and friends, it can also bring additional stress or feelings of depression related to financial worries, feeling alone, memories of loved ones who have passed away, or just having too much to do. It’s also the time of year when people can experience a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project wants to remind everyone to check in with loved ones and see how they’re feeling during the holidays. Simply starting a conversation or showing someone you care can significantly help someone who’s feeling sad, alone or distressed during this time of year. 
Here are a few tips from the Mayo Clinic on how to stay emotionally healthy during this time of year.  Feel free to share these tips with your loved ones: 
  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious/spiritual or other social events or spend time with family or friends They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  3. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  4. Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, snacks or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
  5. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. 
Check out touching personal stories of hope and recovery or share your own story at  You can also call 2-1-1 to talk with someone who can connect you with available community services in the Sacramento area.