by Mary Teachout, CVMC Director of Behavioral Health Services
While twinkle lights, gingerbread houses and holiday bliss appear to be all around us, this time of year can also bring about the stress of commitments, family expectations and sometimes even the holiday blues.
Emotions, both positive and challenging, are natural and occur within everyone. We can experience the holiday crunch ourselves or we often see it happening within others… the question is, “what can I do to combat, or help someone who is battling the holiday blues?”
Our actions, behaviors and thoughts are connected in a unique way and SELF-CARE can be one of the most effective ways to combat the “holiday blues.”
Here are some things you can do for yourself:
- Get enough sleep. Reduction in sleep can wreak all sorts of havoc on our mind, body and spirit so jump into those comfy PJ’s and hit the sheets.
- Drink at least 8oz of water eight times per day.
- Crank up the music. Find your favorite singer/band/song and enjoy a solo dance party.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Take a walk in nature. (If the weather is not cooperating gentle indoor stretching to get the blood flowing can also do the trick).
- Unplug from technology.
- Create a “What I’m Grateful For” list… and post it where you can see it daily.
- Reach out to a co-worker, friend, neighbor and just chat to catch up.
Here are some things you can do to support others:
- Stop and say hello. Just a simple warm smile and listening ear can show others you care.
- Meet a co-worker, friend, neighbor for coffee.
- Invite a co-worker, friend, neighbor who you know will otherwise be alone to join your family for a holiday meal.
- Respond to texts, phone calls, emails, letters. Often times people who are struggling reach out to others, your response can make a huge difference in someone’s day.
While the above ideas are just a few of the many ways we can support ourselves and others, what do you do if something “more than the blues” comes up? Suicide rates are often significantly higher during and just after the holiday season. While hearing comments about suicide can be scary and you may feel like you don’t not know exactly what to do, the best thing to do in the moment is…just be present and listen. *MYTH- Asking someone about suicide will “make them think about it more.” *REALITY- Talking to someone who cares has been identified as one of the top reasons that people did not complete a suicide plan.
The military developed one of the best acronyms I’ve seen (ACE) to describe what ANYONE can do if the topic of suicide comes up…
1- Ask Ask directly if the person is thinking about suicide. Do they have a plan, the means to carry out that plan, and the intent to act on their plan?
2- Care Be present and listen. Often times a kind listening ear can make all the difference.
3- Escort Don’t leave the person alone. If professional help is needed, get them there safely –> take them to the nearest emergency room or call 911 with the person present.
There are also various 24/7 hotlines available for people who need to talk. If you or someone you know needs additional support or could benefit from a listening ear, the following hotlines are there to help:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255
National Crisis Text Line Text “GO” to 741-741
Have a wonderful holiday season. Be kind to yourself and others.