A mental health nightmare
So it's pretty common to see mental health problems rear their ugly head in January. But do we understand why and how can we prepare for it?
The great festive feelings around the season of goodwill seem to do a complete 180 the second Christmas is over, leaving so many people struggling with depression or anxiety.. There's so much expectation around enjoying the festive season that for some it just builds weeks and weeks of anxieties which proceed to explode around the first week of January. For lots of us there's fun, family, food and cheer, but for others there's loneliness, loss, financial stress, and constant worry.
Christmas can be a time of grieving for some families, maybe their first Christmas without a loved one. For others it's the worry of income , not surprising considering the current economic climate. Then there's the lack of daylight and those that suffer with SAD. The cold and damp can have a negative influence on anyone with a chronic condition, increasing daily pain and fatigue. Overall there's a large proportion of people who simply don't flourish through the winter months, so by the time January comes around they've not got much left in the tank. So whilst half the population are setting fitness goals, quitting smoking and shouting 'dry January' to anyone who comes within 20ft, the other half are struggling to even get out of bed and make it through each day. I think we all need to keep this in mind whilst dealing with our peers, some struggles are silent.
For those interested in the theories surrounding the chemical imbalances that contribute to depression and anxiety, I've added a link here. Serotonin and Dopamine
Also, there's the current lack of mental health support in the UK. All the staff in mental health services that I know personally are absolutely flat out trying to support people, the service seems almost at breaking point, but then again it's not the service that breaks is it, it's people. Human beings that break. It's a tough time for our health service and it's amazingly dedicated staff.
So how can we limit the effects of this January depression? Well it seems like the strongest contenders are the simple changes we can make to daily routines.
Get out and move. Even gentle exercise can increase endorphins
Avoid excess alcohol consumption. We know alcohol is a depressant
Talk more! Don't keep it to yourself if you're feeling shite
Get the right nutrition. It's easy to eat poorly when you're feeling rubbish
Consider adding supplements if you don't already, Vitamin D and a B12 Complex appear to be the most useful supplement during the winter months due to reduced light and nutritional changes, B12 is also known for supporting the nervous system
Get involved in the community or take time to visit friends and family
Set a few achievable goals for the month, even if it's just simple tasks
Be kind to yourself, you've made it through every other winter, you'll make it through this one too
Did you know that massage therapy has been used for generations to ease depression and anxiety? The art of touch therapies are to connect with a person's nervous system and influence a change. Massage therapy specifically has been well documented to relieve the symptoms of depression, bringing a state of calm and relaxation, increasing those happy hormones and reducing the production of stress hormones. Now obviously it goes without saying that massage therapy (or any touch therapy for that matter) , is not a cure for depression, that would be quite a claim, but there's definitely benefits to treatment, even if not easily measurable.
The human body needs touch, it needs care, and it needs to feel safe. Massage therapy can provide all these things in the hands of a caring practitioner.
If January is currently kicking your ass, reach out to your friends, family, or your local mental health service, I promise you, you won't regret it. If none of those options are right for you, then reach out to MIND and talk it through.
Take care of yourself