Ways to Ward Off the Winter Blues and Stay Well This Holiday Season

Tips for taking care of your mental and emotional health from the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment ~

DENVER – For many, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration. For others, the holiday season brings an increase in stress and feelings of anxiety, frustration, tiredness, or loneliness. Studies show that nearly one-quarter of Americans report increased feelings of extreme stress during this time of the year, and about 64% of people living with a mental health condition report worsening symptoms over the holidays.

While it is normal to feel anxious during the holiday season, there are things you can do to support your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Behavioral health experts at the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) offer the following tips and resources for residents: 

  • You can’t (and shouldn’t) control everything. Focus on what you can. There are many things you won’t be able to control during the holidays, like the weather, travel restrictions, and the behavior of other people. Focusing on things you cannot control can leave you feeling frustrated, defeated, and angry. When you focus on what you can control, like your mindset, your attitude, and your actions, you can instead feel confident, empowered, and energized. Consider making a list of what you can control and refer to it when you start to feel anxious.  
  • Stick to your healthy habits. Whether it’s the change of weather or a busier schedule filled with indulgences, it can be harder to stick to habits that keep you happy and healthy during the holidays. It’s important to find ways to nourish yourself no matter your holiday plans. Getting a good night’s rest, staying hydrated, incorporating movement – like walking or stretching – can help stabilize your mood, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and improve long-term mental well-being. 
  • Make or schedule time for yourself. Spending time with family or friends can seem like an obligation, especially if you have not seen them in the last few years, and it can also be overwhelming. Do not be afraid to set – and stick to – healthy boundaries, including taking time for yourself. Scheduling time to go for a walk alone, to read, or to exercise will leave you feeling more energized and will improve your mood. 
  • Ask for help if you need it. If your feelings of anxiety, stress, sadness, or depression worsen, do not hesitate to reach out for help. Contact your primary care physician or reach out to a mental health professional for guidance and support. You are not alone. 

There are many resources available locally and nationally that offer supportive services that address mental and behavioral health. If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. 

  • Colorado Crisis Services offers support for people who are experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis. Text “TALK” to 38255 or call 1-844-493-8255 This service is free, confidential, and available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. 
  • The Colorado Department of Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health’s provider database can help you locate behavioral health treatment near you. 
  • The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers resources for finding treatment, practitioner training, and resources for speaking to loved ones about mental health and substance use. 
  • Mental Health First Aid offers additional tips and resources for year-round well-being management and offers a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues. 

Learn more about the city’s work to improve mental and behavioral well-being in Denver at Denvergov.org/CommunityHealth. 

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