After holiday blues and tips to help

January 5, 2018

Stress during the holidays. You read about it. You think about it. You may even do something about it. The aftermath of the holiday, however, often goes unnoticed and is the most troubling period for therapists and others in the mental health industry.

 Many clients at Newport Mental Health often keep their emotions in check for the days leading up to the holiday and the actual day, but once January 2 comes, we witness the results of stress build-up, often in the form of depression or psychosis. In addition, January brings a surge in hospitalizations from the previous month. Some describe the aftermath of the holiday as going from 80 to zero in one day. What many fail to see is that they may have been suppressing their emotions probably since Thanksgiving, and even if they have been trying to mindfully pace themselves, emotional fallout may occur despite their efforts.

 So what good does knowing this information do if it’s going to happen anyway? Perhaps during this time of year, it is more prudent to think about what not to do instead of what to do.

 For starters, if you’re taking antidepressants, do not stop taking your medications, especially during January. Secondly, if you’re seeing a therapist, do not feel you are bothering your therapist if you ask for an additional appointment.

 Lastly, do not make New Year’s resolutions. Instead try to eke out pleasant activities for yourself at least once a day for one week. Dialectical behavioral therapists incorporate pleasant activities as part of their central therapies to help clients remember and experience the simple activities that often make life worth living. Some examples could be collecting pine cones, going to a movie in the middle of the week, daydreaming, or taking a walk in the woods.

 Pleasant activities are meant to  be easy and deliberate events that produce positive emotions, with the idea that in the future, more positive events will occur more often, which will, in turn, ward off negative thoughts and behaviors. 

 Key to getting the most of the pleasant activities list is to practice engaging fully in the activity, with the conscious awareness that you are doing something that you enjoy at least once during your day. In short, you are practicing giving yourself a little kindness.

 In other mental health news: Mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves. With the recent cover stories in Atlantic Monthly and Time magazines along with NBC Nightly News, behavioral scientists and psychiatrists are discovering exciting and promising breakthroughs in mental health.

 During December and January, NBC Nightly News will be examining the state of American children's mental health, with reports on factors leading to the high incidence in anxiety and depression, treatment obstacles, along with innovative programs.

 In pediatric psychology, NBC Nightly News reported on the research of Dr. Joan Luby of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis . Dr. Luby is studying if highly emotional toddlers, who learn how to recognize their emotions at three or four-years-old, can avoid depression later in life. Through a series of strategic play aimed at helping children recognize their emotions, such as anger, sadness and anxiety, Dr. Luby hopes that these children will learn how to manage their emotions more effectively as they mature.

 In adolescent psychologyAtlantic Monthly Magazine’s cover story focused on adolescent mental health and how isolation and smartphones has exacerbated symptoms of depression and anxiety in teenagers. Also Time Magazine’s September cover story focused on how teen suicide attempts among girls has hit a record high from 1972 to 2015.

 For more information about recent mental health reports and the latest mental health treatments, visit www.newportmentalhealth.org.

 

 

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