December is here, and that means the holiday season is in full swing. But did you know that for nearly three-quarters of American adults, the stress of the season wreaks havoc on their mental well-being — especially for those with an existing mental illness?

If you’re among the millions who feel their grip on mental health slip through the holidays, take steps to manage your symptoms and get help. Our team at Desert Bolt Behavioral in Phoenix, Arizona, is here to support you each step of the way.

Our board-certified providers and mental health therapist offer psychiatric evaluations to get to the root cause of your symptoms. With a diagnosis in hand, we provide personalized care for many mental health conditions, both during the holidays and all year long.

If you’re concerned about your mental well-being this December, don’t wait to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, take a moment to read our top tips for managing mental health this holiday season so you can start the new year out right.

Keep holiday expectations in check

For many people, mental and emotional stress develops when there’s a disconnect between their expectations for the holiday season and the reality of their situation.

For example, based on childhood experiences or what you see in popular culture or on social media, you might subconsciously expect large holiday gatherings filled with cheerful people, singing, and amazing decorations.

Or with so much of the season seeming to revolve around gift giving, especially in ads, in movies, and on television, it can be easy to set high expectations when it comes to buying and receiving gifts.

When the reality of your situation intersects with these expectations, it can feel disappointing and trigger feelings of loss or deep unhappiness. This can trigger mental stress or make existing mental health conditions more intense.

Avoid this pitfall by keeping your holiday expectations in check. Since you often do this without even knowing it, start by noticing your expectations and thinking about whether they’re realistic. By keeping expectations grounded in reality, you can help protect your mental health.

Be proactive with stress

It’s hard to avoid stress during the holidays. Being aware and taking steps to keep stress from taking over can help you manage your mental health.

Start by using what works for you outside the holiday season and stick to it. If you haven’t practiced healthy stress management, use some tried-and-true techniques before you start to feel stress taking over. These include:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Yoga
  • Journaling
  • Biofeedback
  • Talk therapy

By setting aside time for yourself and being proactive about managing your stress, you can stay ahead of it this December and better manage your mental health.

Focus on healthy living

During the holiday season, it’s easy to let your diet and physical health slide. The busyness of this time of year can make it difficult to stick to your regular exercise routine. And with tempting treats at every turn, your nutrition can slip into unhealthy territory. This can make sleep difficult.

But your mind and body are intricately related. Stick to healthy habits, especially during times of stress. And because these factors are within your control, it’s empowering to keep the reins on your physical health in check.

You don’t have to avoid all holiday indulgences, but focus on reaching for nutrient-rich, whole foods first. Make physical activity a priority by taking a walk every day, and work to get enough sleep.

These steps help reduce anxiety and can stabilize your mood, making it easier to manage your mental health.

Ask for help

Reaching out for help to manage your mental health during the holidays is one of the best things you can do. It’s easy to feel alone or like you’re the only one struggling with negative thoughts and feelings during “the happiest time of the year.”

But the truth is, stress and difficulty managing mental health during the holiday season are normal. Asking for help or talking about your feelings and experiences with someone you trust can go a long way toward managing the challenge.

At Desert Bolt Behavioral, we offer personalized support for many mental health conditions. Every treatment plan is designed to address your specific symptoms and may include one or a combination of therapies, including:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medications

We provide both in-person and virtual appointments, so no matter where you are during the holidays, help is never out of reach. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at our Phoenix, Arizona, practice today for better mental health this holiday season.

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