Taking Care of Your Mental Health as a New Year Approaches

The holidays, especially leading into the New Year, can be a difficult time and is the cause of major stress and anxiety for many Canadians.

There are many different factors that contribute to stress and anxiety during the holiday season, says Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver. Some of these factors include financial pressure, family situations, and having too many commitments.

When it comes to financial matters, we often feel pressured to buy gifts and spend a certain amount of money over the holidays. For those who are unable to afford buying expensive gifts, this can often lead to anxiety, stress, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed. You might ask yourself things such as, ‘Why did I buy that?’ or have concern that you may not have enough money in your bank account to pay bills, or that you might not be able to pay off credit cards. This is why it’s important to set a budget. This is something many financial planners will often tell clients, but it’s also a good thing to take into consideration when dealing with mental health to avoid any undue stress.

Making commitments is another common cause of stress and anxiety over the holidays and into the New Year. For example, Christmas often comes with large family gatherings and big dinners that need to be prepared. This alone can cause one to feel overwhelmed. That feeling can also ramp up in individuals who already suffer from social anxiety. Social anxiety is characterized by the fear of interacting with others and being around large groups of people. While some individuals without firsthand knowledge of social anxiety might use it as a way to negatively judge others and think it’s simply an excuse to get out of such commitments, it’s a very real condition that affects many Canadians and people all over the world. When it comes to coping with this condition, Anxiety BC offers some self-help strategies to help you cope. First and foremost, know you’re not alone. Secondly, understand your social anxiety. While some individuals with social anxiety might have a fear of speaking to co-workers, others might fear going to parties, etc. Take note of which situations cause you the most stress and how they make you feel physically – for example, increased heart rate, sweating, etc. To better manage these stressors, Dr. Ali Ghahary and Anxiety BC recommend finding ways to relax – such as practicing calm breathing exercises, and even trying yoga or meditation, which can significantly calm the mind.

New Year’s resolutions are also a common cause for anxiety. When we set a goal it’s not uncommon to want to reach said goal by a certain date. Weight loss, for example, is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions that Canadians make – and it is also one of the most common resolutions that people have the most trouble with. However, when planning what your New Year’s resolutions will be, it’s also important to be realistic. Instead of saying you want to lose X amount of weight by a certain date, have it be a goal that you can work on throughout the year and look at it as a way to better your overall health.

If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, BC211 offers many services that can provide you with help and resources. They also offer information for individuals with financial troubles as well as those facing homelessness. For more information, visit their website at BC211.ca.