Feeling down this holiday season? You’re not alone.

A brand-new hospital that offers holistic approaches to treating behavioral health conditions is slated to open in Surprise, Arizona in the next month.

Founded by Martin Newman, M.D., Destiny Springs Healthcare center will help people engage in meditation/mindfulness, exercise plans, internal medicine, endocrinology and other things “typical behavioral health hospitals do not currently do.”

“Depression is kind of a spectrum disorder,” he said. “We engage in areas that they may have not experienced. We broaden horizons, we take care of them in not only a behavioral health fashion but also dietary, fitness, [and] meditation, things like that.”

Dr. Newman also warns that the holiday season could be triggering feelings of anxiety and depression in those prone to the diseases.

The end of the year is expected to bring holiday cheer to all, but 64 percent of individuals with a mental illness report their condition worsens during the holiday season, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI).

“For many people the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year,” said NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth. “[There] is a tremendous need for people to reach out and watch out for each other in keeping with the spirit of the season.”

So, what can you do to help alleviate stress in your and your loved one’s lives this season and year-round?

Keep your expectations realistic:  

According to Martin Newman, M.D., “a lot of people expect a lot to happen during the holidays. Their expectations are high, they’re not necessarily realistic though… it’s important to keep your expectations real and make sure you keep your feet on the ground. Understand that it may not be as good [as previous holidays] but if you keep your expectations real, you’ll be fine. There won’t be so much disappointment.”

Set aside differences:

You may not agree with all your family and friends when it comes to politics or social issues but why is arguing, without a chance to actually change their mind, worth ruining your mood?

“This is good time to set aside those differences, move them along, wait to deal with those differences until after the holidays. Why bother with them now? Leave them alone. They’ll still be there when the holidays are over,” Dr. Newman said.

Set a budget:

Setting a budget allows you to buy others presents without creating financial strain. This will help alleviate stress because you’ll still have the means to pay for necessities like rent and groceries.

You don’t have to go spending a lot of money on gifts and things like that to make yourself feel better,” Newman said. “You don’t have to buy happiness. Set a budget and stick to it.”

Plan ahead:

According to Newman, “[you] may want to plan ahead because things get chaotic.” This means having specific days to shop, bake, visit friends, have family over, etc. Plan out exactly what you’re going to cook for holiday dinners before making a shopping list. Things like this will help prevent frantic last-minute stress or forgetting to do things.

Don’t abandon healthy habits:

During the year you might’ve developed healthy habits. This includes working out daily, eating healthy meals, giving yourself alone time, and more. When you’re busy it is easy to abandon these habits, but it is important that you don’t.

“People end up abandoning everything they’ve done prior to holidays [and] how’s that going to affect your self-image and your self-esteem? You’re going to look at yourself and go ‘why did I do this?’” Newman said.

Learn to say no:

“People get invited, they get dragged around, they want them to go here, they want them to go there. You have to learn to say no to that because what ends up happening is [that] you end up attending these things and feel resentful because it becomes a time suck,” Newman said. “[You] need to take care of yourself… [If you] don’t really want to do it, you have to broaden your shoulders, stick your chin out and say no not today, I got other things already planned and that’s important.”

Acknowledge your feelings:

One of the most important parts of getting through mental health conditions is acknowledging how you feel. Do not push the feelings down, that can lead to you feeling worse in the future.

“Feel[ing] sad about things, it’s pretty normal. So, it’s important for people to acknowledge their feelings. It’s okay to feel sad during this period of time, [especially] if you’ve experienced a loss during this time,” Newman said. “Acknowledging your feelings is really important, it helps [you] understand that these are normal feelings and it’s okay to [feel] because depression comes with guilt.”  

Reach out to others:

Realize it is okay to feel sad, depressed, or anxious and allow yourself to ask others for help. Talk to family, spend more time with friends, attend church groups or support groups. Do activities that help alleviate the pain and make you feel less lonely.

“If you’re feeling sad, you’re feeling depressed, reach out. That will help you ride through this turbulence,” Newman said.  

While mental health has been the victim of stigmatization, according to NAMI, one in five adults in America suffer from a mental illness.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health issue, reach out to a medical professional.

Emily Richardson

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