Winter Blue: On Mental Illness and Winter Self-Care

We've all heard it a million times. On the radio, on TV, in store windows and music. It's "the most wonderful time of the year."
But let's consider this: is it really the most wonderful time of the year?

The Issue
During the winter months, mental illness and lack of self-care can strengthen as we become busy. Mental illnessesespecially along the lines of eating disorders, depression, and anxietycan pose as threats or obstacles around the holidays.

Mental Illnesses
Eating disorders come in a wide array, includingbut not limited toanorexia, bulimia, binge, and EDNOS. Around the holidays, large meal gatherings and an abundance of sweet foods can present a challenge. Those struggling with an eating disorder may display increased anxiety and difficulty in eating habits.
Depression can cause tiredness, feeling of hopelessness, decreased motivation, detachment, and can be tricky to handle throughout this time of year without help.
Anxiety disorders can lead to decreased sleep, appetite changes, shaking, headaches or stomachaches, paranoia, and an increase in busyness and pressure can become prevalent.
Sensory Overload/Processing Disorder, or SPD, often accompanies anxiety. If any sense is over-stimulated, although usually it's hearing or vision, the body and mind can produce more anxiety-associated chemicals. The holiday abundance of lights and music can trigger SPD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that is often dismissed as an actual mental illness. It tends to occur during the winter months, peaking around holidays. SAD can present itself as worsened depression, lowered mood, extreme fatigue, difference in appetite, and lack of motivation.

What You Can Do
As many of us get caught up in the fast-paced holiday errands and processes, there is often a neglect of self-care. It is a complete necessity to take time for yourself; as the season of giving goes on, remember that you are important as well! Other people are important, but forgetting to tend to your own needs can cause a dip in mental health. Remember that you are important, and that your body needs attention and nourishment. It is important to get sleep, eat when you are hungry, exercise when you are able, and remember take any prescribed medications you may have. Make time for yourself-whether that takes shape in a little extra sleep, writing, making art, spending time with people you love, or finding an outlet for emotions.
If you or someone you know is struggling, don't be afraid to reach out. Happy holidays- you've got this!